If your ear exam is negative, meaning there are no signs of infection or injury, then there is a greater chance of referred pain or referred otalgia. Common areas that refer pain and symptoms into the ear are the temporomandibular joint or TMJ and surrounding structures. Another very common area and probably the most common is the upper neck.
Symptoms of referred ear pain
- Itching inside the ear
- Plugging or pressure sensation
- Pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty clearing the ear
- Tinnitus or ringing
- Neck tension, stiffness or pain
“Not all ear pain is from the ear”
A study conducted looking at ENT office visits for ear pain showed that “half had pain related directly to the ear, the other half it was something else. Referred pain.”
If you have these symptoms and your ear exams have been negative consider seeing an ENT or physical therapist that specializes in neck and jaw problems.