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periodic SEVERE outer ear pain
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mrshelmer posted:
yikes....for the last few years periodically i'll get a severe case of sharp pain in the cartiliage (sp?) of my outer ear. most frequently it is my left ear, but sometimes it will switch to the right ear. the pain is centralized on the cartiliage inside and out that rounds out behind my ear, but radiates to the upper portion, down the ear canal and also down under the back corner of my jaw. the pain can last anywhere from 30 minutes up to the longest has been 7 hours and then goes away until the next occurence...usually 1-2 weeks. i've read many articles where people complain of this happening while they sleep but mine happens at any time of the day or night whether or not i'm laying on it or putting any sort of pressure on it. just the movement from swallowing causes pain so bad that i almost pass out from it. i've asked my pcm about it but he says that he has no way of diagnosing it unless he examines me during an occurence...which is impossible since i never know when its going to happen and more often than not it only lasts at the most 1-2 hours....although it has lasted longer, thats infrequent. i've been at my computer for a couple of hours now and the pain started this time about 20 minutes ago. it feels kind of like i've just been punched in my ear, which is how it typically feels. although the pain is centralized on the backside of my ear at the rounded portion, even touching my earlobe makes it feel like i'm being socked in it over and over again. yes, i know....then don't touch the earlobe. my question is what could be the cause of this? i've tried to be as specific as possible but please ask questions if i wasn't clear. thanks so much for any help and/or advice.
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Rod_Moser responded:
There can be MANY causes of outer ear pain. During the last few years that you have had this severe pain, have you been medical examined by an ENT? Symptoms alone, no matter how thorough that you are, are not sufficient to make a specific diagnosis or medical recommendation. As much as I would like to help you and solve this mystery, this is not something that is possible in this forum. This needs a hands-on examination....
 
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mrshelmer responded:
I have not seen an ENT because my insurance requires a referral to see a specialist and the doctor has to show "necessity" for the referral, which he says he can't do because he has neither "seen nor treated" the problem. I would love to find a new doctor but they are assigned by our insurance company and it takes an act of congress to get the insurance company to reassign a person. i was hoping to get an some ideas to discuss with him, i.e. possibility of causes and tests that could pinpoint the cause.

I know that it's not a constant problem and I feel like a big whiny baby about it, but during the episodes it REALLY hurts. I also feel like my doctor is telling me that since it's not constant that I should just suck it up and deal with it. In some ways I agree with that, but on the other hand, if he would just figure the problem out so that if something CAN be done we do it and I stop whining. Once the problem is figured out, if nothing can be done to stop it, I will accept that and just deal with it. I just want to KNOW what it is.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to me. I completely understand and respect why you can't give a specific diagnosis without doing an exam, but I do appreciate the time you've spent.
 
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Rod_Moser responded:
With restrictive insurance companies, you have to be assertive.....either INSIST on seeing a different doctor -- one that will try and find a reason for your symptoms, or INSIST on seeing an ENT. If you doctor will not refer you, call the Member Services Representative with the insurance company. Sometimes, you do have to keep whining until SOMEONE pays attention

Don't give up...

Rod Moser, PA, PhD
 
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mriding responded:
My husband has developed this same sort of pain. Extremely painful, but thankfully doesn't last last or happen too often - at least at this point. Have you gotten a diagnosis yet?
 
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summer425 replied to mriding's response:
I have had the exact same symptoms described in this blog for at least 10 yrs periodically. I used to blame it on using a stethoscope but haven't worked clinical in some years now. I can never associate any particular activity, weather, allergy or diet to the inflamation and pain. It runs its course of a couple of hours and is gone. In my case, laying on that ear for 1/2 hour or so will make it better. I have been to an ENT and had an MRI of the head with no abnormalities noted. I suspect allergy of some sort and would love to know what truly causes this odd infliction.
 
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kelly_mccoy responded:
know exactly how you feel...however my dr did provide a referral to an ent and he still wasn't able to diagnose it so i just gave up. the pain you describe is just like mine..it feels also like my whole left ear gets really warm in conjunction with the occurrence, at times its almost unbearable and at other times its just like a pain you tolerate. My ent discussed the possibilites of maybe tmj but when i have read about those symptoms it seems to be more jaw related than what i am experiencing. I am not a fan of wasting my time going to doctors, i feel like i should be able to get an answer after 3 times but that didn't happen so i just ditched my last appt which was about a year ago.they did a scan and didn't find anything ominous so i guess i thought, well it must not be life threatening so i have been living with the pain but i am thinking about asking for some pills.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to kelly_mccoy's response:
Question....does your outer ear get bright red or even hot? Then, it will go away spontaneously?
 
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kaywill2 responded:
I too have the same issue. It is so tender that touching it almost has me want to cry. I cant find the answer to why.


* But what I have found to stop it fast is to slowly tug on the ear ever-so gently & hold it a few seconds. After a few seconds try a different dirrection till all pain is gone.


I am suspecting. seeing this helps. somehow the cartlige is dislocating itself. When it is allowed to "pop back into place" then the pinching of some nerve is stopped (blood supply returned?) & the pain goes away in 1-2 min or less.


One site talked about the tail bone pain being associated w/ it. I have chronic pain in the lower back/tail bone, but meds take care of it.


I plan on talking to a acupuncturist (local college). They have many times placed needles in the outer ear to help pain elsewhere! (does not hurt. VERY TINY needles!) They claim different spots are associated w/ different body parts. (same w/ feet & hands etc) (weird?)
So there may be a connection. They have placed needles there for my back pain issue!


But that would not explain why tugging on the ear for a few seconds makes it better? (unless like acupressure?)


*I have my money on movement of the cartlige.Almost like a small dislocation. How to "fix"???


I am frustrated at doctors not listening or dont seem to care. (seems common w/ allot today!) IT HURTS!


I have tried many different pillows & that does not seem to be the answer. I think I maybe lay hard on it & move around dislocating it.
I am not sure but the tugging works in seconds to stop the current pain.
 
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kaywill2 responded:
I too have the same issue. It is so tender that touching it almost has me want to cry. I cant find the answer to why.

* But what I have found to stop it fast is to slowly tug on the ear ever-so gently & hold it a few seconds. After a few seconds try a different dirrection till all pain is gone.


I am suspecting. seeing this helps. somehow the cartlige is dislocating itself. When it is allowed to "pop back into place" then the pinching of some nerve is stopped (blood supply returned?) & the pain goes away in 1-2 min or less.


Interresting another site talks about the tail bone pain association. I have chronic pain in the lower back/tail bone, but meds take care of it.


I plan on talking to a acupuncturist. They have many times placed needles in the outer ear to help pain elsewhere! (does not hurt. VERY TINY needles!) They claim different spots are associated w/ different body parts. (same w/ feet & hands etc) (weird?)
So there may be a connection. They have placed needles there for my back pain issue!
But that would not explain why tugging on the ear for a few seconds makes it better? (unless like acupressure?)
*I have my money on movement of the cartlige.Almost like a small dislocation. How to "fix"???


I am frustrated at doctors not listening or dont seem to care. (seems common w/ allot today!) IT HURTS!


I have tried many different pillows & that does not seem to be the answer. I think I maybe lay hard on it & move around dislocating it.
I am not sure but the tugging works to stop the current pain.
 
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stacylwilson replied to kaywill2's response:
I also have been experiencing intense outer ear pain along with pain down through eustachian tube but no indication of infection or inflammation (like seen with otitis externa). I can never sleep on right ear unless I create some sort of "donut" for it so that cartilage does not rest directly on pillow (and if it were a pillow-issue it would affect the other ear as well). Last night I woke up from the searing pain. I cannot touch the outer ear at all during an attack and I cannot turn head very well to the left as is stretches eustachian tube and creates more pain. Episodes come and go within an hour or two, night or day, doesn't seem to make a difference. No ear swelling, redness, itchiness, infection symptoms - nothing - and then it just goes away. 800 ibuprofen and warm ear drops do help. I'm seeing the ENT tomorrow as this has been going on for a couple of years at least and it debilitating when it happens. I cannot move, cannot teach, cannot sleep, cannot turn head. I just have to wait out the pain and then things seem normal again. Always the right ear, never the left. No coccyx pain. No ear discharge. No fever. No weird skin afflictions. I do have seasonal allergies but this happens off and on all year long!! Argh!!!
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to stacylwilson's response:
Let me know what your ENT has to say after your visit tomorrow....
 
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sourpickles replied to kaywill2's response:
I was experiencing this pain as I was reading this. That's why I was here. I pulled on the lobe of my ear very carefully b/c touching the rounded part right above the lobe is excruciating. It popped (like popping a knuckle) and the pain subsided!! I'M ACTUALLY IMPRESSED. I CAN TOUCH ANY PART OF MY EAR AND THERE IS NO PAIN!! I still have some mild throbbing pain inside my head surrounding my ear but I can touch my ear w/o pain. Now, I really want to find out what causes this b/c I've had this for a year and a half.
Curious if those w/ this problem wear glasses. I got a new pair and this started right around that time.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to sourpickles's response:
Possible....there are sensory nerve pathways all over this area. Compression of a nerve can certainly result in neurologic pain...and in your case....ear pain. Just to be safe, you may need to get those glasses adjusted. I don't know if this is the specific cause or not (there are MANY causes of outer ear pain), but check it out. If an adjustment prevents further pain, then you were correct. If not, you may need to see an ENT for a more thorough evaluation. A year and a half is really a long time, so there may be something else going on....
 
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gailani replied to stacylwilson's response:
WOW - I'm not crazy! I'm experiencing this awful pain as I type - my whole jaw hurts as well as my ear. Tried tugging on my ear lobe as suggested by one writer, with no luck. Usually just wait it out.


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