My Ear Hurts! What Does This Mean?


ear-pain2“My ear hurts but I have gone to the doctor several times begging for an antibiotic and he keeps telling me that my ear looks fine!”
This is more common than you may think.  Many of my patients have complained about this.  They present with severe ear pain and pressure, some eye pain or pressure, pain around the temple area, and sometimes sensitive upper teeth.  How could this not be an infection of some sort….right?  Well the truth is, you may be suffering from temporal tendonitis.

What is Temporal Tendonitis?

Temporal tendonitis is a craniofacial pain disorder which results in the inflammation of the temporal tendon which connects the temporalis muscle on the side of the head to the mandible, or lower jaw, on the coronoid process.

temporal-tendon
Temporalis Muscle attaches to the lower jaw (mandible) on the Coronoid Process by the Temporal Tendon

After our examination, I usually discover signs of occlusal wear on a patient’s teeth, possible arthritis occurring in a patients joint, or a history of clenching.  All of these, and other predisposed conditions, can contribute to temporal tendon inflammation.

If a patient has an irritated temporal tendon prior to a dental procedure (or any of the other reasons listed above), it is more likely that they will develop a tendonitis after the procedure is completed (or after taxing the tendon through normal function: yawning, eating, etc).

What Causes Temporal Tendonitis?

You may develop temporal tendonitis from:

  • Trauma to the side of your face/head
  • Being opened really wide for a long period of time for a dental procedure
  • Yawning really wide
  • Eating very hard foods
  • Loss of vertical dimension of occlusion (the distance between your nose and chin is shorter than it was when you were younger – you are becoming over-closed)
  • Chronic parafunction (your bite is off and your teeth do not come together appropriately)
  • Hypertrophy of the coronoid process (your coronoid process, a part of your lower jaw, becomes larger than it once was)

Temporal Tendonitis Symptoms

If you have one or more of the causes of temporal tendonitis listed above and experience one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to give us a call:

  • TMJ pain
  • Eye pain
  • Ear pain and pressure or congestion
  • Limitation in opening the mouth
  • Pain/pressure behind the eye
  • Temporal head pain that can radiate to the forehead
  • Pain and/or swelling in the cheek
  • Sensitivity of the teeth, particularly the upper maxillary teeth

How Do You Treat Temporal Tendonitis?

Treatment of temporal tendonitis can involve multiple processes such as:

  • Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen
  • Muscle relaxants
  • A soft diet
  • Splints/orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Biofeedback if clenching related
  • Injection therapy with a long lasting local anesthetic and a steroid, sarapin, or prolotherapy

Temporal tendonitis is harder to treat through medication alone.  We have several ways that we treat this condition successfully in our practice every day.  Proper diagnosing is crucial and allows us to create your ideal treatment plan.

If you believe that you may be suffering from Temporal Tendonitis, we can help you! Call us today for an evaluation and treatment and be done with that ear pain once and for all!

Dr. Tracy Davidian

Fellow of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain

Fellow of the Las Vegas Institute of Neuromuscular Dentistry

919-366-PAIN (7246)

3 comments Add yours.

  • Michael Keys

    I’ve been telling Dr’s for years my right temple , just between my right eye and ear feels like it could explode. I’ve even suggested putting a needle in and sucking out the pressure.
    It only happens in my right temple. Any time I get a sinus infection.
    I’m on my 2nd zpac but it dont seem to be helping my ear or temple

    4 years ago

  • Gaurav

    Michael Keys, I feel exactly the same thing. Just put a needle and suck out the mucous. Thankfully now I no what the problem is.

    3 years ago

  • Kimberly

    I do I have major headaches. Just about ever day I get up with one and I been thinking it’s sinus I had the surgery but did not help so I suffer daily I do have a under bit and I hurt above my eyes in my temples my ears feel weird at times like they may have fluid and my jaws hurts like a sore feeling

    3 years ago

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