Ear Pain

Ear pain can be quite a complicated problem to work out. The outer, middle and inner ear can all play a part in the development of ear pain. Additionally, the ear has a nerve supply from a number of different nerves in the head and neck region. This means that pain experienced in the ear can be a result of problems at other sites such as the teeth, neck, jaw and throat. This is called “referred pain”.

What is the cause? 

Pain is a nasty sensation experienced by all of us in response to damage to bodily structures. Problems directly related to the ear including infections and trauma are common contributors to ear pain. Serious conditions of the ear such as cholesteatoma and tumours can also lead to ear pain in some cases. 

Pain may be referred to the ear from a number of sites and as a patient it can be difficult to determine exactly where the pain is arising. Common sites that refer pain to the ear include the tonsils, jaw, teeth, voice box and upper neck.  The potential for pain in the ear to be arising from another site is one of the reasons this may be a difficult problem to solve. 

How can we work out what the problem is? 

A detailed discussion with Dr Morrissey about the symptoms you are experiencing as well as a complete head and neck examination can help to identify potential causes while also assisting in ‘ruling out’ some more worrying causes. 

Laboratory tests and scans may be needed in some instances to identify the cause of the problem and to help ensure there is not a more concerning cause for the ear pain. 

What are the solutions? 

The first part of managing ear pain is to ensure that you have adequate pain relief. Dr Morrissey can prescribe medication for pain relief to improve your levels of comfort. 

Ultimately the cause of the problem needs to be identified and then a plan formulated to address it successfully. This may involve a number of options including medications and surgical treatment as well as the involvement of other experts such as other Medical Specialists, Dentists and Physiotherapists where the problem warrants it.