Not infrequently, a patient presents to the ENT clinic with complaints of ear pain convinced there must be an ear infection. However, on exam, the ear itself appears completely normal!
What could be going on?
Often, the ear pain is actually not because of an ear problem, but due to a disorder of the temporo-mandibular joint otherwise known as TMJ. The pain gets referred to the ear.
This video demonstrates how the TMJ can cause ear pain.
Treatment typically entails soft diet, ibuprofen, and ice packs, but if the ear pain due to TMJ does not resolve, an appointment to see a dentist or oral surgeon is recommended.
And if you are lucky, there are dentists who specialize in TMJ disorders. In my area, these are the TMJ specialists I typically recommend:
Dr. Michael Singer in Bethesda, MD
Dr. Steven Guttenberg in Washington, DC