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

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.


  1. Somato- sensory cortex and the auditory cortex in the temparoparietal region are in close proximity. Pain in the cephalic (head and neck region) has a particularly intrusive somatic-tinnitus variant. (eg:- Pain in the jaw can induce tinnitus – Costen’s syndrome) –

    Yes … this pain caused by trauma to the toes, is an example of pain distracting the attention away from the tinnitus, but then again one should consider tinnitus as the auditory systems equivalent to pain. Unlike pain, – tingling, burning and itching : Tinnitus comes to our perception in far greater vivacity.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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