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Earache with Jaw tension

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get relief,
and more…

Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People usually complain about earache and some jaw tension. Sometimes they complain about a roaring in the ear or some other form of tinnitus. At times, when the trigger point is most severe, there is sharp pain deep in the ear with a sickly ache in the jaw.

Earache Massage?

Usually, clients don’t complain to their massage therapist about this kind of earache and jaw pain. If they know that trigger points cause earaches and their massage therapist can help with that, they’ll remark about this as an incidental comment. Sometimes, they miss the session to seek antibiotics. Unfortunately, they usually find that this earache continues or recurs after the antibiotics finish.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Biting Problem

Like other masseter trigger points, this jaw pain with earache is usually activated by unusual jaw activity. For example, crunching ice, busting popcorn kernels, or chewing on toothpicks irritate this trigger point. Also, a bad tooth can cause a change in the chewing pattern that aggravates this trigger point.

Some clients are savvy about their temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues from previous treatment. They may also realize that they get more ear pain when they chew or stretch their jaw. This trigger point doesn’t usually create restrictions when opening the jaw. However, it does create pain around the TMJ. Often it occurs with other TMJ trigger point patterns. I have seen this pattern linger after the client has extensive dentistry that aggravated the TMJ.

Neck Problems

Nearby joint problems, especially the upper neck joints, often perpetuate this pattern. I have people sit up straight in my seminars, lightly touch their teeth, and then roll their heads around. Try it. The relationship becomes obvious.

Also, this could be caused by a motor vehicle accident. Whipping around of the neck is more likely to create this problem. It’s a secondary effect of upper neck problems. However, once in a while, there is a direct blow to the jaw that creates musculoskeletal problems in the TMJ.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Anatomy – Throacic Outlet

The anatomy of these structures is important to understand the syndrome. This post walks through the structures one at a time.

This is a strong, thick 3-bellied muscle that closes the jaw. You can read more about it in this post about the masseter muscle.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, ice, and more to relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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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.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.