Home » Trigger Point Pain Patterns » Head Pain » Sinus » Sinus Pain in the Face and Ear Congestion

Sinus Pain in the Face and Ear Congestion

Client’s Description

referral - lateral pterygoid - cropped When asked, people trace their hands along your cheekbones around toward their ear and complain of sinus pressure. The pain in the cheek bones seems to be more constant, irritated and feels like pressure. The referral into the ear, when present, feels like an earache or stuffiness. They may also complain about clicking when they open wide.

They often complain of weather or seasonal changes that made them stuffy. Often, they are surprised when they get relief from bodywork. Unless they are familiar with the relief that can be had from this work, they seldom see the sinus congestion as a problem that the bodyworker can solve. The congestion is something that I see a lot of in my practice as I specialize in cranial work and clients are more likely to connect the two.

This really is a TMJ problem. They may complain about the clicking and popping. The clicking and popping might be avoided by not opening as wide. It may also be inconsistent in frequency and intensity. It can eventually lead to serious pain that is difficult to control. This problem needs to be addressed early.


Self Care

This problem can lead to chronic sinus irritation and permanent damage in the disc of the TMJ. This referral creates a parasympathetic phenomenon that irritates the mucus membranes. This irritation leads to over production of mucus and inflamed linings, which can result in a serious sinus infection. When working with a therapist to resolve TMJ issues, there are a number of self-care strategies that can help including exercises, stretching and sinus cleansing with a neti pot or sinus douche. They should be used as an adjunct to therapeutic work that corrects the TMJ  mechanism in the prevention of further deterioration of those structures.

Therapy Notes

oit-lateral-pterygoid-lateral-view oit-lateral-pterygoid-medial-view

This muscle has two sections and both can be hard to reach. They restrict entry into the space under the zygoma when swollen. They are a strong indicator of sinus irritation and usually offer immediate relief when released.

The client often has clicking, especially when the upper belly has trigger points and is unable to pull the disc forward as the mouth opens and the head of the condyle translates. The jaw clicks as the condyle slips off the disc and the disc snaps posteriorly.

Trigger points in this muscle get the easiest and longest lasting relief with cranial work that precedes trigger point work, stretching or exercises.

Similar Patterns


Click on these categories to see if there is a referral pattern that better describes your concerns.

tags-tmj tags-ear tags-sinus


Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.

He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

Question? Comment? Typo?
The Body Guild.org
(404) 226-1363