Ear pain, cervical issues, which one comes first?


I am two years into my chronic dizziness issue. A brief history:

  1. October of 2016, got a very bad upper respiratory cold (was also 3 months postpartum).
  2. Developed chronic cough and postnasal drip which did not subside until December of 2016.
  3. February/March started getting strong dizzy spells periodically along with left-sided ear pain, which subsided by taking Advil.
  4. No sign of ear infection although doctor noted my left eardrum had a retraction.
  5. April woke up in the middle of the night very dizzy, confused, lots of anxiety.
  6. The next day noticed when I tilted to the right would start to get very dizzy and anxious.
  7. June, 2017 went to emergency after a very bad dizzy spell and was told I had BPPV in the right ear.
  8. I tried the Epley Maneuver at home, produced the spinning when I performed it with head turned to the right. Eventually, true spinning subsided when I tried the half-summer sault (a variation to the Epley).
  9. Residual dizziness persisted with bouts of dizziness where it felt like I was “about to spin” but didn’t.
  10. Left ear pain persisted.
  11. In October of 2017, I started getting “clicking sensation” in-ear after loud sounds, along with noise sensitivity (hyperacusis test was negative). Also developed random thumping sensations in the left ear, although now it happens in both ears.
  12. Currently, I experience a decrease in left ear pain although still occurs closer to the menstrual period. Experience neck pain when turning left with slight nystagmus. Have a electrical feeling/zap in upper back/trapezius on left side when I tilt head to the right.
  13. I feel off-balance when looking to the left or making sudden head movements.


Hearing test x 4 all normal.
CT scan brain normal
MRI Brain normal
Visited Dr. Timothy Hain, the cervical test revealed left beat nystagmus. His conclusion is that I have mild imbalance from BPPV, mild migraine and some cervical issues.

I saw a neuromuscular surgeon who concluded I also have TMJ and I clench at night badly which was supported by electrodes being measured over the TMJ muscles.

I can’t help but think the TMJ is causing the left ear pain and the cold caused the BPPV? I also do an extraordinary amount of work on the computer and bad posture contributes to TMJ. I do find that my symptoms flare up when I work too long at the computer.

Yesterday, I was stretching my neck by looking all the way to the left. I have a very limited range of motion on this side compared to the right side. Today, I have experienced the ear pain again so there is a definite connection between looking left all the way and the triggering of this pain.

I wonder if my neck/TMJ is causing the ear pain or vice versa? thoughts?

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Sorry you are still suffering.

You’ve got to rely on doctors to navigate this: we can’t diagnose here although it’s tempting.

You could get another opinion, but you’ve seen one of the best, so asking another to improve upon their conclusion is going to be tricky.

TMJ can cause issues with the ET (as can neck problems: double whammy?), so that’s possible. Issues with ET can then cause vertigo and dizziness.

Migraine can cause these sensations, they say.

FYI My ear used to click like crazy but it’s calmed down a lot.

I know. It’s become more manageable but it definitely is chronic now. I can see spikes before hormonal shifts which do indicate migraine but most of it is just so strange and bizarre.

Sorry things aren’t going well. It sounds like you’re getting good care because they’re actually taking you seriously. I am not a doctor, but I’d guess the TMJ is probably one reason for the ear pain. You’ll have to ask next time you go in.
I grind and bang my teeth together at night. Ask your dentist for a soft night guard or buy one at the drugstore if cost is an issue. I find my jaws (and occasionally ears during more stressful times) to be much less sore now.
I can’t always lay down on my right side in bed without getting dizzy. It has come and gone over the past 10-15 years. I am a big believer in vestibular therapy exercises now that I finally went early this year. I had horrible nystagmus when I started V therapy. The eye exercises helped tremendously. It took about two months to calm down the really bad nystagmus in my left eye and it really helped with my balance. I am bad about doing all the exercises they gave me so the therapist said to do the eye exercises no matter what.

I relieved my TMJ with just patience, no guard. It really helps to be disciplined not to ‘fiddle’ with your jaw (avoid unnecessary ‘parafunctional‘ use (like nail biting!!) so it gets rest) and align it as much as possible when using it so it doesn’t click. TMJ is in part a neurological issue: in that you can get it from a muscle spasm or injury which will change the tensions on the set of muscles that align the jaw. Your brain then has to relearn how to align the jaw whilst the muscles themselves may be healing and changing tensions. This process is a bit like returning to homeostasis. It can take years to improve. Mine is now night and day compared to how bad it was. Good luck with your TMJ.