Pain Behind Ear

earrings-876363_1280Pain behind ear or occipital neuralgia can be caused by numerous conditions. It can radiate towards the head, to the neck, shoulder or arm. If the pain is accompanied by a fever, it can be a sign of an infection. The most important issue with an ear infection is the complication which can develop with spreading the inflamed process to the brain. This is considered a serious threat, and it needs medical assistance. The pain can be a sharp one, mild or a dull one, and it can be followed up with dizziness, swollen skin and  red bump. There are a lot of structures that can get affected, so it is important to investigate the origin of this condition.

Possible Causes Of The Pain Behind Ear

There are many possible causes of this kind of pain due to various structures behind the ear. The pain can originate from the bone structure called mastoid bone to the muscles, nerves and injuries of all of them.


Mastoid bone is the bone that protrudes behind the ear surface. It is often affected by a bacteria infection, resulting in mastoiditis. This bone is filled up with air which is useful for middle ear drainage. Infection can spread from a middle ear infection, obstructing the air conduction, leading to the spread of an infection. Your ear lobe can swell, it could turn red and it could be accompanied with fever and weakness with some drainage from the ear. Because it is usually caused by bacteria, it is treated with antibiotics.

Lymph Node Inflammation

Lymph nodes are the structures in the human body that deal with infection pathogens by leucocytes concentration in one place, the lymph node. Because of the intruder, it can react with swelling due to reaction of the immune system. Lymph nodes can be found in other places too, such as groins, neck, chest, armpit, popliteal pit, etc. They can get enlarged in numerous conditions, where the lymph node which is closest to the inflamed change, swells. Due to an infection, a doctor may opt for antibiotics therapy, but it is important to exclude the possibility of cancer.

Middle Ear Infection

As we mentioned above, a middle ear infection can be an origin of inflamed tissue. Otitis media, or as it is called, contains the smallest bones in the body which vibrate and create mechanical movement of the air resulting in sound and hearing. It can often spread from the throat infection. From the inflamed tissue, a fluid may fill up the air space causing pain and pressure in the affected area. It usually occurs in young age and it can be treated with antibiotics if it doesn’t resolve on its own.

Tooth Problem

A lot of times, the back situated tooth can cause pain behind the ear. A tooth infection can develop into a tooth abscess causing swelling of the lymph node. It can be fixed with the help from a dentist. A dentist can prescribe you some antibiotics with OTC meds and recommend to keep up with oral hygiene. It is good to rinse it out with saline water.


Cerumen or earwax is a waxy oil which is being secreted inside the ear. It has multiple roles, such as preventing the dust from going inside the ear, stopping microorganisms and other foreign substances from getting inside. The earwax can build up if the gland is functioning excessively and if the clearance of the fluid is not normal. Ironically, using cotton swabs can lead to this condition. You can use hydrogen peroxide to clear the ear or some oil or glycerine to dilute it.

Swimmer’s Ear

As the name suggests, this condition is caused by retention of the water inside the air, which is often in swimmers. This can be a great ground for bacteria development. If the moist stays that way for a long time, it has a high potential for an ear infection. It is important to treat it, but not with cotton swabs because of the possible damage, but with ear drops. A doctor may recommend using over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen. It is important to treat it in order to prevent any complications.

Other Causes

  • Jaw arthritis
  • Sinus infection
  • Blocked Eustachian tube
  • Jaw disorder (temporomandibular joint)
  • Whiplash
  • A cervicogenic headache, etc.