Migraines and Headaches Community
6.75k Members
Avatar universal

tension headache and ear ache

I'm 36 and have been struggling with headaches since December. At first I thought I was getting an ear or sinus infection. But my doctor couldn't find any ear infection and was diagnosed with TMJ-type pain. I was prescribed naproxen, flexeril (which made me feel hungover in the morning, so I stopped taking it) and xanax (as needed) to relax. Well the headaches got a *little* better but never went away.

My doctor sent me to a neurologist, who sent me for an MRI, which came back negative, thankfully. The neurologist at first diagnosed me with trigeminal neuralgia because I described to her that (at the time) I had a headache with pain around my right eye that shot into the right side of my head. Maybe there was some nerve issues, but I don't think it was trigeminal neuralgia because that part of the problem quickly went away and I never got the "searing" pain that is usually a symptom of trigeminal neuralgia.

For a week I kept a log of every single thing that was hurting because I was exhausted from feeling headachey all the time, I wanted answers. The neurologist said it was classic tension headaches. I've been going to physical therapy twice a week for the past month now and was feeling better. I was getting maybe only a mild headache once or twice a week. But I noticed over the past week I'm getting the ear pain again. It feels like a typical ear ache, inside the ear, you know? I was really tired last night so I went to bed early and woke up this morning feeling really headachey with a stiff neck and achey ears, mostly the right ear.  I'm so fed up with this!  

I'm wondering if I should seek out an ENT or ask for an MRI of my neck and spine or something. I'm really struggling to get through days like this!
7 Responses
Avatar universal
I had similar pain several months ago with alot of the same doctors' diagnoses. I have multiple types of headaches and one of them is tension type at times. I recently found out I have myofascial pain syndrome that is reaponsible for the pain in and around my ear. Mine has progressed below my ear on the side of my neck, eye, forehead, nose, cheek, teeth, gums, tongue, throat, areas around my mouth, and down the front of my neck. Mine has been going on for over two years until a couple of weeks ago when i saw a new ER doc. Does your earlobe hurt too? I was shown how to do the trigger point release to the muscles on the side of my head which lessens the pain in my ear and dulls the pain in my face. Ask about craniosacral massage fro the muscles that are spasming. It is worth a try.

Avatar universal
My earlobe doesn't hurt, but I have noticed that the front of my neck hurts sometimes. I even feel pain in my cheekbone/sinus area sometimes. Not debilitating pain, but I definitely feel it. I have a follow-up with my neurologist in about a week, so I"m going to speak to her about it. I've been noticing some crampy feelings in other parts of my body too (wrists, forearms, legs...) maybe something else is going on.
Avatar universal
Hi and welcome to the Migraines & Headaches Community.

When you have the earache does your ear feel clogged up, like everything is muffled in that ear? If so, then it is most likely TMJ, I have it as well and my left ear gets the clogged feeling A LOT and will stay for weeks at a time. It is so frustrating. One thing that helps is to sleep with a mouth guard. You can either get it from a dentist or W-M or any pharmacy should have one. TMJ is just basically arthritis in your jaw. And the main cause of it is grinding your teeth, hence the mouth guard. Other causes are chewing gum or candy. You need to limit gum to 15 mins at a time and only a few times per week.
The rest of what you describe are classic migraine symptoms. And yes the TMJ and Migraine together can make it seem like all the symptoms just meld together into one big blob of blah!
As for the medication...it takes a good 2 to 3 months for side effects from medication to go away. I feel you need to give the medication your doctor prescribed another chance and in the meantime you can see if you have TMJ, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
Avatar universal
YESSSS!  I always feel like I have to pop my ears, like when you're on an airplane. I really need a general checkup at the dentist anyway, so I better schedule an appointment and get a mouth guard. I am a confirmed teeth-clencher (even during the day) and I've noticed lately that sometimes I'll jolt awake at night and my teeth will be making that horrible grinding sound. So I might be grinding now too. Ugh.

With the flexeril, I would wake up in the morning and feel like I had an actual hangover. Like, shakey and nauseated. It wasn't worth it, to me.

I feel a little better today, not as headachey, just feeling a little "out of it".

Thanks for the info!  It makes me feel a little less crazy, haha!
Avatar universal
Yep. Sounds like TMJ. You need to get it taken care of ASAP because I have permanent hearing loss in my left ear because I let it go on for to long!!
Avatar universal
Sounds like TMJ and it could be extremely painful. Do not suffer. You can get this treated. Sounds like you clench your teeth at night. Jaw pain, headaches, eye pain, ear pain, ear feels muffled (inflammation) are all symptoms of TMJ because all those tendons and nerves are connected. An appliance (like a mouthguard) may help your symptoms.
Avatar universal
Hi, im also 36 and I clench my teeth and have a mouthguard and all the pain symptoms and clogged ears you have. Im at my wits end trying to figure these migraines out. Ive had one everyday for weeks and i dont know what to do. I recently moved from CA to LA and have been reading about barometric pressure migraines as a possible explanation. Next step, maybe an ENT or allergist. I hope ypu figure it out! Its a miserable existence living with migraines.
Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
620923 tn?1452919248
Allentown, PA
1780921 tn?1499305393
Queen Creek, AZ
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
Avatar universal
Trinity , TX
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease