Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why does my ear get sharp and intense pain when I chew and my jaw pops?"
My ear hurts when I chew, my jaw pops when I chew, The pain is sharp and intense.
Due to the close anatomical relationship between the ear and the upper part of the jaw, pain from one area can often be referred to another. This can be exacerbated by the fact that so many nerves that innervate the ear also innervate other parts of your head and neck. The pain and popping that you are describing sound similar to pain that can come from temporo-mandibular joint disorder syndrome (TMJ). While the cause of this syndrome is not completely understood, the symptoms are very common. It seems to arise from (as the name describes) the joint at the top and back of the jaw. Some people will have inflammation of the joint capsule itself, and this can occasionally be demonstrated on radiographic imaging. The vast majority of people, however, will have relief of their symptoms by following simple exercise regimes and using over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Naprosyn or ibuprofen) as needed. If your symptoms persist or become worse despite these conservative measures, you should speak to your primary care doctor, who might or might not refer you to either a dentist, an oro-maxillo-facial surgeon, or an ear-nose-or throat surgeon.
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