How a Broken Toe Helped My Tinnitus

It’s not like my feet were pretty to begin with. It didn’t help when I dropped a heavy flooring sample – the thin edge – on my left foot. The toe next to the big one is now the biggest one.

Re-creation of TOE BREAKING. (Do not try this at home.)

We’ve all stubbed or bruised or broken a toe at some point. And if you’re one of the lucky few who haven’t, be grateful; the pain is far greater than you’d expect from such a small body part. It throbs when you’re not walking. When you are, each step is a lightning bolt of agony.

But there is one benefit to this stupid accident – it has taken my mind off my tinnitus and hyperacusis (often referred to by sufferers as “T” or “H”, or by me as tinni-cusis). One form of discomfort in a momentary exchange for another.

While scientists around the world are apparently racing to discover the Big One – a cure for tinnitus – there are a few existing therapies to help relieve the perception of tinnitus, such as masking, hearing aids and cochlear implants, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, biofeedback, etc. I have tried several, but my T is complicated, loud and never stops, although the sounds change throughout the day so I don’t get bored with the same combination of roar-hum-and-whoosh noises. Until I discovered the benefit of pain elsewhere in the body, only three things have given me a decent break from the head noise: sleep, wine, and focusing intently on something else such as good conversation, a good show on Netflix, or a good sleep. Also, wine.

Clearly, re-focusing the brain is the #1 Best Solution, and moaning over a broken toe falls into that category. 

Another benefit of toe-over-tinnitus is that people tend to be more sympathetic to something they understand.


“Hi Gael, how are you doing?”

“Well, my tinnitus is pretty bad today.”

“Oh dear.” (They look a bit concerned and then change the subject.)




“Hey Gael, how’s it going?”

“Well, I broke my toe and it’s pretty sore.”

“OMG! That happened to ME and it hurts like HELL! You poor thing.”


When you have tinnitus, you look for relief and comfort wherever you can. While I wouldn’t recommend the broken toe trick, I do suggest keeping your mind engaged with anything not related to your T and H.

Oh, excuse me, please, I have to get another ice pack for my foot. In the meantime, I’m always open to good suggestions for Tinnitus Avoidance.


Note: For the rest of December, the editors of HearingHealthMatters will be posting their most popular articles from this and other years.  We hope you’ll find them worth reading a second time!


Photo: wikiHow

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a sought-after speaker for her humorous and insightful performances about hearing loss. Unheard Voices and EarRage! are ground-breaking solo shows that illuminate the profound impact of hearing loss on a person’s life and relationships, and which Gael has presented to appreciative audiences around Canada, the United States and New Zealand. A DVD/video version of Unheard Voices is now available. She has received awards for her work, including the Consumer Advocacy Award from the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Gael lives with her husband and son in Toronto.

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Distraction, or basically taking your mind completely off the tinnitus really does work. It takes a bit of will power, but ignoring it (for some lucky people like me) has worked for me, three times over the last 25 years. I think removing any awareness of it may be the trick, and it will go away by itself.


Please see a podiatrist, a DPM. A foot doctor may help you. My Dad was a DPM. I worked for him in my teens.

Lynne Bullock (Mark A's sister)

I sympathize with you Gael. I had tinnitus for years and it was like crickets chirping in my head all day. However; when I got hearing aids I was no longer aware of the tinnitus. Hope you are feeling better soon.


Hi Gael, I wish your toe a speedy recovery! And your T&H as well, but that will be something longterm, I guess.
But my experience too is distract and ignore T&H is the best „medicine“.
Get well soon!