Are TMD and Ear Pain Related?
Submitted by Michael R. Cortese, D.M.D. on Wed 10/05/2016 - 09:00
Some of Dr. Michael Cortese’s patients at Princeton Prosthodontics that seek treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder have reported feeling ear pain. Although ear pain does not always indicate TMJ problems, it is a common symptom. Dr. Cortese thought it would be helpful to discuss the relationship between ear pain and TMJ disorder in more detail, for other people that might be experiencing either.
A Symptom of TMJ Disorder
Ear pain can be a symptom of TMJ disorder. The jaw joint is right in front of the ear, and so close to it that when the TMJ aches, the pain can radiate to the ear. Ear pain is likely to occur when moving the jaw to talk, chew, yawn or swallow. It can be a dull throb or a quick, searing pain, affecting the area inside, behind or below the ear. In the worst cases, it can cause small spasms in the facial muscle. The pain may be accompanied by ringing or other noises, or a feeling of fullness in the ears. Ear pain can be very disorienting and possibly debilitating.
Other symptoms of TMJ problems include the following:
- headaches or migraines
- a clicking or popping noise when opening the jaw
- the jaw locking in place
- shoulder or neck pain
- pain or pressure behind the eyes
- tender jaw muscles
The Problems Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Although ear pain could indicate a problem with the TMJ, not all ear pain is due to TMJ disorder. The two are not mutually exclusive. For example, ear infections are another condition that can cause aural discomfort. Or, ear wax buildup, tooth infection, throat infection and other facial pain conditions can cause pain in or around the ear.
Contact Princeton Prosthodontics for TMJ Treatment
If you are experiencing ear pain (or another symptom that might indicate TMJ disorder), schedule an appointment with a medical specialist to be screened for the condition. Should you be diagnosed with TMJ, Dr. Cortese can evaluate your treatment options with you and help you select the best approach. Call or email us today.
Note: If your ear pain is accompanied by drainage, pus or blood draining from the ear, seek immediate emergency medical attention.