Headaches From Ear Trauma and other Persistent Pain

Question: My son got punched six weeks ago on both ears. Since then he has ringing in the ear, headaches, jaw pain, and persistent pain on back of the ear, it hurts when he chews and open his mouth. I took him to a dentist to see if it’s TMJ, but that came out negative. What else can it be? His doctor said it could be psychological, could these things all be the result of the ear trauma?


Thank you for the question and I hope your son is feeling better. Unfortunately, all of the symptoms you describe can be caused by ear trauma.

It is not uncommon for a blow to the ear to cause damage to the sructures of the ear.  One can suffer a ruptured ear drum from the direct air pressure against the ear- and hearing loss from that.  A blow to the side of the head can cause a concussive injury to the head and damage to the inner ear .  Either may result in persistent ringing in the ears, with or without problems with balance.

Finally, one can suffer fractures to the temporal bone (bone behind the ear) and/or to the mandible or jaw bone.  A small fracture to the mandible can cause headaches, jaw pain and pain behind the ear.  I would suggest that your son be seen by an Otolaryngologist (ENT doctor), have his hearing checked and have xrays or CT done, if this has not been done already.  He may need to see an oral surgeon, depending on the findings.  I would not suggest that his problems are psychological until he has been well evaluated.  It would seem unlikely for someone to have all of these symptoms purely on a pscyhological basis.

Robert L. Pincus MD

Associate Professor Otolaryngology

NY Otolaryngology Group