Ear cartilage pain?

Every so often I get a strange pain when I touch the cartilage around my ear, it usually only last about 10 - 20 minutes. Anybody else get this? know what it could be?

No idea what it is. I’m just glad I’m not the only freak. Feels almost like getting poked with a blunt pin, doesn’t it?

Does this only happen when you are writing and sewing? :wink:

I have what seems to be the same problem. Pain, often extreme pain, in the external ear which lasts for 5-30 minutes and then just goes away. Usually it’s my left ear, and it almost always happens when I’m sleeping. The pain level is bearable but enough to wake me up and keep me awake, and is worse when I move my head and really bad if I touch the affected ear. Sometimes it happens when I’m awake, and I can feel the pain beginning, with a hot feeling in the ear associated with the onslaught.

I assume it is some sort of swelling made worse by the limited space available between the cartilege and skin of the external ear, but I can’t see any visible difference from the other ear other than sometimes a slight reddening. It happens infrequently enough and goes away quickly enough that I’ve never bothered to see a doctor about it.

Anybody got the Straight Dope on this phenomenon?

I’ve been experiencing this same pain for the last few years. Seems to occur when I’m preparing to go to bed. The external ear is so painful, I cannot touch it, or even lay down on my right side[it has never happened to my left ear] I’ve always assumed it was due to a fluid build-up within the ear, but doing a few Valsalva maneuvers doesn’t help at all. Pain sometimes disappears in a few minutes, but usually lasts an hour or more. Paging ENT folk, any words of wisdom?

Wow, it is so good to hear that I’m not the only one. I have discovered that if I touch the ear, despite the pain and move the cartilage around a bit, sometimes the pain goes!

I used to get this too, for several years, always on awakening. It went away quite suddenly a few months ago, the very minute I asked myself whether it could be psychosomatic. I’m guessing that means yes.
More details in an earlier thread.

I have a sister who is a scientist and hyperchondriac. She told me to shut up about psycho mumbo jumbo when I suggested that something she had was psychosomatic. So because this is an area that I have dealings with, I doubt that it is psychosomatic for me, however one can never rule this out. I haven’t noticed it occuring when I have been particularly stressed.

Mine wasn’t when I was particularly stressed either. It took a long time for me even to suspect that it was part of my brain-generated physical suffering. But the brain-generated physical relief was impressive. I think people underestimate their brains. They seem to think they know what’s going on in there most of the time. Somebody suggests that their brain is up to something, so they check and they find that no, their brain is all innocent and truthful. But you know where this information is coming from? The brain! What did they expect it to say? It’s a lying pile of wrinkled goo! Of course it’s going to claim to be innocent! It says, “Look, I’m only capable of imaginary symptoms, and these are obviously real symptoms, so how could it be me?” And people fall for that! As if brains had no links to the endocrine system, and had never been caught producing very real changes in physical condition for no apparent reason. So don’t be a sap–show your brain who’s boss. You can start just by letting it know you’re on to its little game. Or maybe you’re really sure you’re not being lied to. Hey, that’s a beautiful thing. All I know is, if it were my brain, I’d be checking its story.

Yes, modern western medicine is now saying that it has severely underestimated the power of the placebo - in effect how the brain can be fooled. I’ve just read an article about sugar pills (I think it was in New Scientist) and how if someone believes they will work, sugar pills have the possibility to cure many things but not HIV and cancer! However, learning to control pain, even though you know all of this, can still be quite difficult.

I had another episode of ear pain this morning and tried Mel’s massage treatment. It hurt like hell, but the pain was gone within 2-3 minutes instead of the 10-30 minutes it usually lasts!

Glad to hear it, now that you have had success with this method, I am more confident that it isn’t just random.

Thanks for sharing…while recovering from a middle ear infection (otitis media), it is unusual to have outer (cartilage) pain but I do. Could it be TMJ (temporal mandibular joint) related?

Wow, I thought I was the only one that experienced this. No one else I’ve asked seems to know what the hell I’m talking about.

I only seem to get it when awakening from a full night’s sleep or from a nap. I’ve never had it for anywhere near 30 minutes, though. Maybe 10 tops.

I just always assumed it was due to poor circulation from the pressure of your ear being squeezed between your skull and whatever you’re laying against. No idea if this is the actual cause though.

One thing that first brought me to this conclusion was my occasional instances of falling asleep on my hand. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with an intense, shooting pain that would gradually dissipate after I moved my fingers around and the natural level of blood flow returned.

Not sure this fits, but I have similar symptoms of tenderness to touch which was diagnosed as actinic keratosis, an early form of skin cancer. Obviously, only a doctor can tell you whether this is your problem as well. On the bright side, if so, it’s relatively easily treatable (see other pages at the link provided).

When I get that shooting ear cartilage pain, what seems to knock it out instantly is pinching the webbing of my hand between my thumb and first finger very firmly (you’ve got to get right in there, deep into the webbing, and press about as hard as you can). There is apparently an accupressure point there that corresponds to the ear.

Having had that same mysterious ear cartilage pain occasionally over the last several years, I am usually able to wear it out within an hour, or so. However, last night it started up - chronic pain -
and it has been with me all day today. It sounds exactly like what others describe. To touch the ear
(near where it connects to the head) is almost unbearable.
After reading here, I have to tell you that I used two things - Mel’s massage (it does hurt like the dickens) and then I used Cat Whisperer’s method of really “digging” into the web between thumb and first finger. For the first time in hours the pain is nearly gone. I am going to continue to use these methods because they are the only things that have worked.

Oh my God.
Oh my God.
I thought I was the only one!

I sometimes (Not had it for some weeks, knocks on wood!) get this piercing pain in the ear cartilage, when I’ve been sleeping. It is so painful I can barely touch it and the pain is not relieved when I switch sides to keep on sleeping, it lasts for loooong minutes and I can’t do anything about it. I’ve had this for like ten years.
I told me it was because I don’t move much when I sleep, and usually always sleep on the same side, so my ear is compressed for hours.

I almost started a thread about that a couple of weeks ago, but thought it was too weird to describe. (yeah, I know, we currently have threads about a goatse look alike ring and a cooking book with semen as its main ingredient, and I tought this topic was weird :rolleyes: )

this is suggested for headache pain also.

to practice the method and see if it might work for you, try it when you have no pain. not only will you feel some pain at the thumb site, you might also feel some headache pain while you are doing it and for maybe for a minute after.

You sufferers are not alone. I’ve experienced the pain you’re talking about off and on for several years and always in the left ear. I’ve mentioned the pain to an excellent dermatologist and his response was a baffled look and a shrug. (I suspected it was skin cancer.)