Ear pain is not pleasant and can be debilitating as well as interfere with eating, speaking, and even be disruptive to ones focus and concentration at work and socially. We have many patients who have seen their ENTs multiple times and have ruled out ear problems only to find out that it is the TMJ issues that cause this pain.
Referred pain: When there is dysfunction or inflammation in the TMJ, the brain may interpret the pain signals as originating from the ear, leading to referred pain. This is because the ear and jaw joint innervation are so close and if the jaw is compressed back on the ear, the pain occurs in this area.
- Eustachian tube dysfunction: The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and helps regulate pressure in the ear. TMJ disorders can cause muscle tension and inflammation that may affect the proper functioning of the Eustachian tube, leading to ear pressure, fullness, or pain.
Muscle tension: TMJ disorders often involve muscle tension and spasms in the muscles that surround the jaw joint, including the muscles that extend into the ear area. This muscle tension can radiate to the ear, causing pain and discomfort.
Inflammation: Inflammation within the TMJ can extend to the surrounding tissues, including the structures of the ear, resulting in ear pain.