I usually post on inner ear disorders, have been suffering from ear pain/pressure/fullness/dizziness etc... for 7 months now. Seen an ENT - at the moment looking in to Eustachian tube problems, although have no firm diagnosis. I have recently developed more TMJ like symptoms - tightness/pain in neck/ in front of ear, behind ear, on TMJ joint. Be very grateful if anyone could tell me how TMJ causes inner ear pain/fullness? Does it impact on the eustachian tubes causing inflammation? Is there some other reason? I was at the dental hospital yesterday - they said TMJ is a possibility - would really like to know more, but of course didn't think of all the things I needed to ask at the time.
Big apologies if the answers to this are obvious to long term TMJ'ers - be really grateful for any answers.
I've had TMJ for over 13 years now...had arthroscopy 10 years ago and again about 3 weeks ago. I have no severe problem other than the disks in my jaw slide out of joint and cause damage to the bone as well as severe pain.
That being said, when I first became ill 13 years ago, I was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, an illness that is basically sudden onset of vertigo that usually only affects much older people. The ENT did balance tests and hearing tests and decided that there was sufficient evidence to sustain his diagnosis. He put me on valium and sent me home.
The moral to this story is, that although I was always dizzy, had a large hearing loss in both ears and constant pain in my ears, I didn't have Meniere's. I had TMJ. My dentist found out by accident when I couldn't open my mouth to have my teeth cleaned!
It was a nightmare, but it's part of the charm of TMJ. No one ever really thinks to look at the jaw for an ear problem or sight problem, although they are definitely side effects of TMJ!
So, follow through with seeing a specialist in the TMJ area, whether it be an Oral Facial surgeon, dentist etc...
Have them take an MRI of your joints and hopefully they will get the real picture of what may be going on!
Very often, pain will be referred to the ear area, when, in fact, the irritated area is not the ear but the jaw joint or one or more of the surrounding muscles. The opening of the eustachian tube, which drains the middle ear is in an area surrounded by a muscle. When this muscle is in spasm, it affects the eustachian tube and pressure and fluid can begin to build-up in the middle ear. This muscle can go into spasm any time there is spasm in the jaw muscles, because all of these structures develop from the same early tissues in the embryo, and, consequently, their nerves are closely related.
Thank you so much for your replies - this may explain a lot - not sure. The ENT said my symptoms were a bit of a mystery as my hearing test was normal - generally with eustachian tube dysfunction hearing diminishes. Maybe the 'mystery' is that I don't exactly have an ear disorder but have TMJD. Hmmmm. Clearly need to find out more. Generally people's experiences with ENT's are not that positive - I'm irritated but not surprised that he didn't even mention TMJD as a possibility - it was my dentist (she's great) who referred me to the dental hospital to look in to TMJ.
[This message has been edited by hbep (edited 03-26-2003).]
I believe that the reason we think we are having ear problems is because the jaw joints are so close to the ears and they swell causing us to think it is the ears. I may not be correct on this but that is what I think just from my own experience with TMJ.
Sorry, one more question I could really do with any input on.
Any of you out there with TMJ related ear problems - did you ever treat the ear problems directly or just the TMJ and by default the ear problems?
If this is TMJ, should I persist with treatment for my possible (not definite) eustachian tubes dysfunction diagnosis. I am using a saline spray - in through my nose, in to my e tubes, then plugging my nose and blowing to get the ears to pop - this is meant to moisten up blocked/inflamed tubes, flushing the saline through. Not sure now if this mightn't be making things worse. If TMJ causes muscle spasm in the ears and that's why mine feel full, could I just be aggravating the problem by messing around in there with saline and muscle contraction through nose blowing? I'm also meant to try oral steroids but don't know now.
If the ear problems are caused by TMJD related muscle or nerve problems, treating the TMJD will provide some relief. I've had no luck with with numerous otologists or ENT's connecting the symtoms. A Neurotologist has been very helpful in explaining the connection and helping me understand. However, other than offering a couple of different medications that might help with the muscle spasms, he could not provide any help. He says the TMJD problem has to be treated.
It is amazing how docs will diagnose Meniere if there is fluctuating hearing loss and rule out TMJ if there is not, when TMJ can actually give symptoms of fluctuating hearing loss! Did your hearing loss and other ear symptoms improve with TMJ treatment? Thanks.
I started with all the ear symptoms you describe. I started having the other TMJ symptoms later. I am still not sure if the ear symptoms were related to TMJ that did not include joint symptoms, or if they were completely separate from the TMJ.
--good morning, my primary problems are muscle imbalance and tension from years of clenching--my symptoms are --ear fullness/dizziness-vertigo/sensitivity to loud noises/ear popping/---had hours of ent testing allong with MRI and hearing tests--all resulting in my vestibular system being declared "normal and functioning properly"...!!!
-I too looked at all the vertigo/dizziness sites and it wasnt untill i found this site that i learned clenching was not normal and very harmfull.
--since I stopped clenching, all symtoms have improved. I just started wearing a lower splint for day-time ( I had an upper for night), hopefully, they
will begin to recondition the muscles.
[This has been edited to eliminate words suggestive of profanity. Thanks for your cooperation - Well-come Moderator.]
[This message has been edited by Well-come (edited 04-02-2003).]
I have ear related problems right now... and tmj problems. I still dont know which one is irritating the other more. There is definately fluid in my ears as I have 3 colds in the past 2 months. If I take the medicine for the ears .. my jaw hurts when the fluid drains. When I only take the jaw meds, then my jaw feels better but the pressure in my ears fills up again. *sigh*
My doctor said if fluid is not gone by the end of this week that he is going to put some tubes in my ears. maybe this would be my best solution as then i could focus on the tmj.
I wish I knew more to help you out hbep. I'm still really confused about all of this. Let me know if you find out anything.
[This message has been edited by justpancho (edited 04-02-2003).]
Sorry, just saw your question! Yep, all of the hearing problems are gone and while I still have pain in my ears while the swelling post-op is reducing, I don't have the vertigo or severe pain that I had before. It's amazing what the CORRECT diagnosis can do for you!
A long shot and you would have to check it out with your specialist. Blockage in the eustachian tubes is sometimes treated with oral steroids (short course - you don't want to take the stuff for any length of time.) If the blockage is caused by inflammation then steroids may clear it up enough to allow the fluid to drain. This treatment is often used prior to trying tubes -the tubes can work really well but it is, after all, minor surgery so I'm just wondering if your specialist has thought of all other avenues first. If there is actual infection in your ears then steroids are not a suitable form of treatment. Because of the tmj overlap it's difficult to say - if muscle spasm is causing the build up of fluid then steroids probably won't help. I was prescribed a week's course of oral steroids. They are still sitting in my cupboard as I discovered the tmj link soon after, so am still mulling over whether to take them - they could see no sign of fluid in my ears even though they feel full. If it's muscle spasm not fluid I would be taking steroids for no reason.
Have made progress on finding someone who can fit a mouthguard/brace in London, so that's cheering.
Hope you conquer the full ear problem. Let me know how things pan out.
Originally posted by hbep: Be very grateful if anyone could tell me how TMJ causes inner ear pain/fullness? Does it impact on the eustachian tubes causing inflammation? Is there some other reason?
Ear pain should be checked out by doctor to rule out more serious causes. Most of the time the pain is trigger point referrals from the tmj, neck and shoulder muscles. The referral symptoms and patterns can vary among muscles and people. The masseter and pterygoid muscles are commonly involved, there are others. A good neuromuscular therapist would examine all of them.
The eustachian tube is opened by a muscle called the tensor veli palatini. One of the tmj muscles, the medial pterygoid, gets tight and it prevents the tensor muscle from opening the eustachian tube. This is what causes the feeling of fullness.
Thanks for the suggestion about steroids. Actually, I've been taking them.. well taking them on the days I decide to take my medicine. (steroids, antibiotics, decongestants, 2 nasal sprays that I have no idea what they do). The struggle between curing my ears while sacrificing my jaw is still ongoing. I just want it to end. Sometimes I wonder if I can just poke a hole somewhere around the area and it'd all come out. *sigh*
Great to hear you found someone to fit you for a brace. I'm sure you've read some of the posts on here about them. Some have worked really well while others seem to irritate the problem more. You might want to post a message about warning signs that people had as they were getting worse.
Let me know if the brace helps. I hope you can find relief