Pain In The Base Of The Head With Earache

Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
and more…


How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People with this headache come in and complain of the ache in the back of the head.  There are several trigger points that create pain in this area. As part of connecting the problem to the muscle with NMT assessment, I ask to be specific about where the real target is located and to understand the consistency of trigger point patterns.

They often tell me that they’ve had an earache, or tension in their ear, or ringing in the ear or buzzing. At any rate, they almost always have some aggravation in the ear.



How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Because the atlas is heavily involved in tilting the head in a “yes” nod, you’d think this was mostly caused by the strain or repetition while tilting your head. Usually, that tilting happens with a twist, which bumps that atlas more to one side.

This sort of twist in the head and neck can create this problem. Birdwatching, painting trim, and leaning the chin on your hand while watching a monitor off to your side create the right twist to aggravate this problem.

By the way, they almost never tell me about the sore throat. Probably because no one wants their massage therapist to cancel the session because the client might be contagious. But, when I mention the sore throat, the sometimes admit that it has been bothering them and say that it is probably allergies. Trigger points create more than pain. The also create parasympathetic phenomena like sinus congestion, fibrocystic nodules, and sore throat.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

These muscles that strap the head onto the upper neck create this pain pattern. The ones on the front of the spine are more difficult to treat. For more, look at this post on the anatomy of suboccipital muscles.

Here’s the thing. A problem in the ear and with pain at the base of the head is usually caused by other trigger points.  You could check out the posts for ear painthroat pain and upper neck pain and probably should. Just in case you don’t want to, I’ve included some extra help in the self-care post. The extra TMJ stretches usually offer relief from trigger point referral to the ear.


Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

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

So, I’ve included a little extra in this post to cover some of the other trigger points that create referrals in these areas.

You’re Welcome.


Treatment Notes for Therapists

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

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


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Optimizing Tension for
the Best Day Ever

This post explores this idea and optimizing the ever-present tension in our lives for our best performance.

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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