Having sharp stabbing ear pains lately?

Many conditions including cancer can cause ear pain, but the causes get narrower when the pain is sharp or stabbing in nature, vs. dull or achy.

A piercing brief pain in an ear can stop you cold in your tracks. It’s not as though there’s a muscle there that’s been overworked in the gym or garden.

So what might it be? Those with health anxiety might start thinking it’s a tumor or a blood clot.

But relax, these two causes are are not known to cause sharp piercing ear pain — especially if moving the mouth brings it on or makes it worse.

Nevertheless, you still want to know: “What’s THERE that can cause such a biting pain?”

What about the temporomandibular joint?

“TMJ disorders can often cause a sharp stabbing ear pain and it could stem from TMJ inflammation, jaw muscle spasm or a neurological disorder in the jaw too,” explains Brijesh Chandwani, DMD, BDS, Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain, with Connecticut & NY TMJ.

“The most common reason for stabbing pain is some pathology in the ear structures, and a primary physician or ENT must be the first person to evaluate it,” says Dr. Chandwani.

ENT stands for ear, nose and throat medical doctor, also known as an otolaryngologist.

Dr. Chandwani continues, “If that consultation is unremarkable, then TMJ disorders should be considered to be a possibility.

“Inflammation within the TM joint structures could cause sharp stabbing ear pain and is associated with pain on biting down.

“Sharp ear pain from the jaw muscle may not be accompanied by any other signs or symptoms of TMJ disorders.

“Benign treatments such as physical therapy, mouth guards or trigger point injections can be tried, but aggressive treatments for ear symptoms should be discouraged, as they can worsen the ear symptoms, or worse, cause some other TMJ symptoms.”

Dr. Chandwani has 10+ years of experience focusing on TMJ disorders and sleep disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.