Sudden pain near connection between jaw/ ear/ cheekbone - is there a paleo explanation?

by 48 · March 29, 2014 at 04:03 PM

I've been fairly strict paleo for a little over a year (though I eat commercial - i.e. non-grass-fed meats) with little to no dairy (butter, occasional cheese and 90% dark chocolate).

2 mornings ago, I woke up with a sharp pain at the junction of my jaw, cheekbone and ear (roughly corresponding to TMJ, as I googled), which has the following symptoms:

  • Seems to be worst in the morning, gets better during the day
  • Hurts while eating: yesterday needed a tylenol to get through brunch, though dinner was much easier, didn't need tylenol
  • At this point, all jaw movement hurts: even hurts to swallow
  • Location of the pain seems to be at that TMJ location or in the general area: i.e. slightly below right where my cheekbone meets my ear and jaw, and only on the right side of my face (left side has no symptoms at all)
  • Temporarily in a very dry climate, have slightly scratchy throat/ congested nose, but snot is still clear/ white
  • I've had extremely irregular sleep for the last 4 weeks, and especially the last 1 week. Sleeping between 4-6 am, waking up 4-7 hours later, occasional afternoon naps
  • The pain is on the right side, which is the side I was sleeping on when I woke up the first time it hurt

I'm travelling overseas, in India, where I've had mostly grilled chicken and veggies, though i cheated last night - had a half cup of fig ice-cream (first ice-cream since doing paleo). Also, the local food includes lots of paneer (a type of fresh cheese), which I've been eating. Going to eliminate both from my diet for the next few days, to see what happens.

I am going to see an ENT and dentist about it, but not excited about either option, due to my significantly enhanced skepticism of doctors since going paleo. Might also consider a chiropractor. Curious to hear if anyone on this forum has any thoughts on what seems to be a really weird problem?

Further health info: I'm a 30 yr old male, no medical issues, have been to a doctor only 4 times in the last 12 years (first two for infections, second 2 for sports injuries). No historic medical issues either. I'm in good shape, and haven't experienced anything like this before.

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48 Replies

best answer

810 · January 02, 2011 at 06:23 AM

As you probably know, TMJ disorder can be caused by a huge array of things. When I had it a few months ago, it was due to stress. I just had to deal with my problems head on, and make a concerted effort to relax. Several days later, I noticed that the pain had disappeared.

285 · January 02, 2011 at 05:27 AM

Possibly an ear infection.

2357 · January 02, 2011 at 03:41 PM

You might be grinding/clenching your teeth while you sleep without knowing it. That could be why it's worst in the morning. If you don't want to see your dentist, you can buy an over-the-counter mouth guard kit at the drug store, which you can mold to fit your mouth and wear at night. It's a little uncomfortable at first, but I found it to help tremendously with teeth grinding/clenching and the associated jaw pain.

A dentist can make a better one that's custom fit, but in my experience, the drugstore version helps a lot.

10 · February 08, 2012 at 06:50 AM

I just started experiencing the same issue, only left side. I think I slept oddly (one of those 'too exhausted to bother with comfort' nights). I try to avoid unnecessary medical visits, and the only agitating factor with this "spasm" or whatever it may be, is that when I chew/sing/yawn/etc, I feel a muscle or tendon tighten up to just above my left temple. Im not in pain or discomfort though, and Advil/muscle relaxers from a car accident last year seem to help. How long did it take for your symptoms to pass?

10 · December 28, 2011 at 05:16 PM

My Grandmother suffered a condition called a "Jaw tic" or short for aka "tic douloureux" sounds like (Tic-Doodle Rue- or maybe Roo). My mother inherited this same condition. My grandmother had surgery for hers. My mother took a strong drug for her condition that's used for seizure patients call tegretol sounds like (Teg-row tall). The problem with the medication is you should be tested ever so often for medication levels in the body. Odd thing...since Christmas-eve I have been suffering a similar condition and I'm very worried. But my RN at work is also worried about my condition. I have a history of 18 heart attacks in a matter of just a couple days. Three massive. I'm a "Widowmaker" surviver with 98% blocked at the time. I passed all 18 attacks off as Acid reflux. My attacks were nothing like I have been told over the years. Some people suffer back pain an jaw pain. Good luck to everyone here. Oh BTW my grandmother lived to be 107-1/2. Mom passed away Christmas several yrs ago @ 71. Oh also my pain is in my LF-jaw as was mom's and grannys. One thing I have noticed, if I hold my finger on the area right below the ear opening the pain goes away for a few moments. If I massage it ...it goes away for several minutes. I don't know whats going on??? I have most all teeth pulled.

God Bless to all and Happy New Year!

10 · December 23, 2011 at 06:28 PM

Thanks for the information..It really helped my wife to solve it.

783 · January 02, 2011 at 06:03 AM

There is a lot going on this region; TMJ, multiple neural pathways, parotid gland, wisdom teeth, or even referred pain from a trigger point... and the list goes on. Chiropractors are very well trained at diagnosing disorders of this area, and the testing and treatment are as non-invasive as they come. Best of luck.

0 · March 05, 2014 at 03:16 AM

My pain in my right jaw started by eating cucumbers and Vinegar. Sometimes sour foods can cause cramp like pain in my jaw. This pain usually subsides in minutes, but this time the tenderness and pain is lasting more than 6 hrs; the longest thus far.

0 · September 25, 2013 at 06:04 PM

wisdom teeth issue buddy.. small jaw-no space=remove wisdom teeth . same here , shall remove my upper and lower wisdom teeth* :)

0 · September 25, 2013 at 06:02 PM

wisdom teeth issue mate* :D same here, and imma remove my upper and lower wisdom teeth-due to small jaw-blessed by birth :(

Medium avatar
28 · July 03, 2013 at 03:30 AM

Okay - this is going to sound strange BUT I have had the same thing several times in life.

First, I was living and working in a high stress environment - I was grinding my teeth at night and the dentist made one of those mouth pieces to sleep in... this helped a bit.

Next, I saw a chiropractor who adjusted my jaw which helped tremendously but needed constant maintenance.

Currently, I had suffered from piercing ear pain, lymph node pain and neck pain. I started looking at the pain from an emotional point of view. I use Louisa Hay's affirmations and have just begun using a tapping technique to reset the meridians and my emotional response to irritants in life. The tapping has been amazing! you can look it up -- Emotional Freedom Technique With in my first round of taping - the pain subsided... It seemed to be related to anger, irritation, sorrow and family baggage.

I would love to know if any of you try this out. I am still reading about it.

0 · July 03, 2013 at 02:35 AM

I know I have the same thing... It seems to come and go though... My remedy so far is take a swig of Ice cold water and swish it across the painful area... Do this during the day to eliminate pain.. Then at Night i take my ear buds for my iphone... And Listen to DUBSTEP... Works every-time... Something about the music going into my ear on the right side.. .who knows...

0 · May 11, 2013 at 04:52 AM


Guys, I've started having similar pain in my upper left jawbone.

From the link above, it's due to osteocavitation, or Holes in the jaw bone. Scary, as only few doctors know About this.

I think I'm headed for a long journey of pain like all Of you.

Be well. Bruno

0 · May 02, 2013 at 02:45 AM

TMJ is possibly to blame for the majority of ur issues here but some could also be ur SCM(sternocleidomastoid) muscle...look it up. It can cause problems from ringing in the ears to mimicking migraines to sinus issues. Visit a licensed massage therapist and tell them what pain ur having. But i strongly suggest going to an LMT/CNMT working at a Chiropractor's office. If you go to a spa its more Swedish for relaxation than NeuroMuscular Therapy. I had the problems here too but treated my SCM (im a therapist) and i feel much better now.

0 · April 26, 2013 at 04:01 PM

i have also used mouth wash and salt water warm towels and eating jello cream of wheat and Orjel..

0 · April 26, 2013 at 03:59 PM

i have the same problem it hurts really bad i have a blester but i think i its my wisdom teeth but i dont know :(

0 · April 18, 2013 at 08:28 AM

I am suffering from this on the left side. I have been prescribed with pain killer and Amoxillin. It has done anything yet but I feel it has gone worst to be honest. I have read all the tread but have not seen a solution - is there a solution to this pain!!

I am 42 and medically fit - goes to the gym at least 3 times a week but do have a stressful job

Please help with solutions - Thanks

0 · April 04, 2013 at 07:38 AM

I also have Weird pains in my jaw... I Can't even Lay down to sleep because it hurts to much I took tylenol and it's sort of working but it didn't start until today as soon as i got out of my Shower and into bed i went on my lap top and put my headphones on then the pain started Help?

0 · April 03, 2013 at 05:26 PM

I had the exact same problem a few weeks ago it started. Right when I was coming back from spring break. I swam a lot! Lol. It grew so much worse to the point of me crying in pain. I went to the docters. It didn't take long to find out I had swimmers ear. Swimmer's ear is caused by swimming and getting water in your ear and getting trapped in your ear canal. And bacteria grows in water so in your ear bacteria may grow when water is trapped inside causing swimmers ear. Basically it's another name for an ear infection. I was prescribed ear drops that kill te infection. You may be able to go to a local pharmiasy and get drops there. Mine were in a box so they weren't specifically made for me. So they are buyable without a perscription I assume. I hope this helps you out! (AFTER 4 days of using the drops all my pain is gone and my jaw pain is gone also. After gettin one ear infection it is common to get more. So be careful when swimming and consider wearing ear plugs in the pool) :-)

0 · March 22, 2013 at 01:03 AM

Frustrating isn't it.? My jaw,neck,ear,tongue pain began beginning of march. Excruciating a week later went to dentist. Antibiotics helped maybe plus pain med and Advil. Then came back. Went to tmj specialist. Half symptoms of that. Already up to $600 out of pocket. Tmj specialist worried about tongue issues/pain bumps. Then back shoulder hurts. Ok maybe vertebrate out. One adjustment.. Helped a little but still not better. And this goes on and on. All I know is something is definitely wrong.where is dr. House when I need him? I have to joke or I'll cry. If I find answer I will give follow up to all.

0 · March 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM


71 · March 15, 2013 at 01:15 PM

Oh and one more thing that REALLY helps is Physical Therapy. Basically they massage and loosen up all of the muscles and joints associated in the TMJ disorder. They will also help you do the stretching properly as doing these improperly may make the pain worse. My insurance did cover this 100% and usually TMJ treatment is not covered at all. Sadly I have 3 children and work full time so ultimately I could not fit this into my schedule after the initial 6 visits but I would highly recommend this.

71 · March 15, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Hi folks, This is all TMJ. Every symptom described in this thread can be attributed to TMJ. I was diagnosed in 2004 after child #3. When through pretty severe pain for about 6 months before I was sent to a dentist that specializes in tmj. I wear a pretty heavy duty mouthguard at night that was specially fitted so it won't move around. The pain is still there although it is definitely manageable now. I to do take motrin probably more often than I should. Remember there are no quick fixes!

Eat soft foods!! meat is fine just make sure it's soft and cut into small pieces Warm moist heat helps Do mouth stretches every day! OTC antinflammatory meds do help find a way to de-stress No NUTs!

MDs don't prescribe narcotics for tmj because it is not something that goes away in a short amt of time. I was given Tylenol w/ codeine for 2 weeks and then told to grin and bear it. I occasionally take narcotics maybe once every 2-3 years now if I have a bad flare up. Good luck everyone! oh and if a MD suggests surgery run out the door. There are nothing but nightmares associated with tmj surgery.

0 · March 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

I'm having the EXACT same problem, but on the left side. There IS something to this, because I have also had lack of sleep, weird scratchy feeling in my throat and I feel a little flemmy but not to the point of calling it a cold. I felt a little uncomfortable yesterday at my singing lesson but this morning when I woke up the pain has really intensified! I dont grind my teeth. What is this !?

0 · December 30, 2012 at 04:51 PM

*I have the same problem! I just searched jaw/ear ache and this is the first page I found. Really?! All of us suffering the same pain and no relief?I went to the doc... no help at all. Gave me some antibiotics I don't need and pain killers that i don't need! It's just more of an annoying ache that is telling me something is wrong... I really hope this goes away, since it looks like no one is finding a good remedy!!

0 · December 27, 2012 at 09:48 AM

I just got this pain, and it hurts up near my right ear. I took pain killers, but they didn't help a ton. Anyways, it has this washy sound going through it and a sharp squealing pitch. I don't know what to do. Please help.

0 · December 22, 2012 at 01:37 AM

I've had what I thought was an earache for almost a month, went to an ENT and my ear is fine. He is sending me to my dentist. We'll see...sometimes my ear feels like it's throbbing......anybody? I'll let y'all know wht the dentist says. Merry Christmas!

0 · December 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM

Hello All,

Just wanted to let you know that healing is possible through Jesus Christ and is a fact. I am suffering from TMJ for the last 3 months and have seen nothing less than 10 doctors in Bangalore, India with Masters in ENT but no one has been able to diagnoise nor give the right treatment. The best the doctors can give is pain killers and heat treatment but this did not help me at all. After months of praying Jesus has answered my prayers through his message in the church that he will not only heal me but also give life to live. Believe my folks, i was depressed as the ear pain was continues for the last 3 months and I could not work at office and a phone call could trigger my ear pain. Now God has shown me a good doctor and he has clearly diagnoised this problem as TMJ Arthritis due to calcium and vitamin deficiency. I have taken this medicine for 3 days and my pain has come down drastically without taking pain killer. He suggested me to take Shelcal (Calcium and Vitamin D Supplement) Tablet for 1 month in the afternoon, Effenerve Capsules (contains Methylcobalamin, Alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Biotin etc, this is used for nervous disorders )to be taken for 1 month in the night and Piroxicam 20 mg in the morning for pain. Presently i am taking only Shelcal and Effenerve capsules and i am already on the road to recovery by just taking Shelcal 500 mg and Effenerve. Hope this helps a lot for most of you. Again I say, Jesus is healing me and will give life to live. He will lead me and guide me in the way i should go. God bless all of you and hope to see lot of TMJ patients cure



0 · December 02, 2012 at 02:37 AM

Im 18 years old and bout 11 days ago i bit down on a really rough/tough chicken patty. And ever since then my jaw has benn sore. I cant bite down hard, open my mouth wide, or move my bottom jaw at all with out being in pain. Its right at the joint, of my cheak bone and jaw bone. Near my ear. I cant go see a dentist because my insurance dont pay for it... doea anyone know what this sound like??

0 · December 01, 2012 at 06:04 PM

This is so odd. Both my husband and I have had this pain in our jaws and glands of the neck below the ears. My nose is a bit stuffed, his not. We are having some trouble with sleep too. What could this be? Most of the diagnosis above and that I've researched would not cover why we both have this simultaneously which began about a week ago. Could there be tetanus bacteria in the food chain that has not been discovered to date? Is there a weird virus going around with these symptoms? Any ideas out there that are helpful?

0 · November 09, 2012 at 04:38 AM

I have been having pain on the right side of my jaw for at least2.,. months, I get sharp pains sometimes & then sometimes it is radiating pain from the back to the front front of my jaw. It also wakes me during nighttime hours. My teeth are really bad! I have broken off teeth, caps missing, just a mess. Don't have dental insurance and live on fixed income. Would love some suggestions!

0 · November 05, 2012 at 01:31 PM

I have the same problem but on the left. In 2008 it started and I got medicine from a homeopath (have no idea what he gave me). He said that my ligament is streched out and therefore it slips over the joint and causes my jaw to get stuck. In 2009 the pain came back and I got the same perscription. Each year the pain just resturns and always on the left side. Specialists and dentists (all of them I visited) told me my wisdom teeth is causing the trouble.

At the beginnig of 2012 it started again and is worse than before so I decided to try a more permanent solution. 1. I got an injection in my jaw joint and it didn't even relief the pain for a minute. 2. I had my wisdom teeth removed. 3. I had a mouth guard made by the dentist but my teeth are not grinding at night and the thing only hurts my teeth and make them more sensitive. It does nothing for my jaw. 4. I got some more medicine from the homeopath (two perscriptions in a row) and it isn't working anymore. 5. Muscle relaxants stopped helping after the second day. And I only took two a day.

Ever since my wisdom teeth was removed it has gotten worse. I think when they dislocated my jaw to cut the teeth out, it somehow hurt my ligament. My jaw gets stuck in an akward position when I yawn, brush my teeth, eat, anything I do that requires my jaw to move. When it is stuck, it takes hours before I can close my mouth. If I try to force it close it hurts like hell and I can't even speak when it is stuck. This prevents me from chewing/eating as my molers aren't touching and happens about 3 - 4 times a day. While my jaw is stuck, I start to get headaches and my jaw muscles get extremely tired.

No one in my family suffers the same problem. My brother that is older than me said he had problems with his jaw but only minor compared to mine and it stopped on its own. My ear never aches and I am very healthy apart from a cold I catch once a year. I wake up on different sides.

For five years long especially from beginning 2012 I've struggled with the pain every day and I am furious for spending all that money on doktors' opinions that have only worsen the problem! Please if there is any other help I'll appreciate it. My exams are coming up and the pain makes it difficult for me to consentrate and study.

0 · October 27, 2012 at 04:34 PM

I have a similar problem pain near where the jaw meets by ear area right side only but my pain is inside doesn't hurt when u put pressure at all it hurts when I look upward just above my eye straight straight ahead if me. Also when I sleep on that side but only when my head so in that position just above my eye sight level straight ahead. I eat just fine nothing hurts it kinda feels like when u get a really bad bruise. Could this be stress? I haven't gotten any sleep this past week been working harder than normal getting ready a haunted house for a safe house. Any opinions would be great! Thanks

0 · October 18, 2012 at 02:32 AM

I also experienced the same problems you guys are experiencing right now..my left ear can't hear well I don't know why,,

0 · October 07, 2012 at 08:06 PM

I got very similar problem that i have got sudden pain in the morning when i wake up form the bed and when i chew food, it intensified and couldn't able to enjoy my meal.Its exactly in the middle of right jaw and ear junction, but i have no soar throat or cold. I have an habit of biting my teeth in sleep. These days am in stress and short of proper sleep. I would like to wait for two more days before taking any decision like buying mouth piece or consulting doctor. If any other home remedy, please suggest me. Thanks a lot for nice information. Hey am 32 years old, male, Indian.

0 · October 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM

I have had poor sleep latley and now after a day of soreness I feel and a small lump just swelling I guess but every time I eat I get pain the kind you get when you taste something very sour. I dont know what it is, hope it goes away as fast as it came

0 · September 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM


0 · September 19, 2012 at 02:27 AM

I have a similar problem. I am a 19 year old female and for the past two or so weeks i have had pain in my left jaw. It hurts when i eat/yawn/touch it, but not to the point where i have to take tylonel or any kind of medication for the pain. I keep hoping it will get better but for 2 and a half weeks it has not. Ah just yawned and it hurt.

0 · August 22, 2012 at 07:48 PM

can someone help me guys right ave got this pain in my jaw from my leftside down to the bottom of my next and i cant open my mouth properly , when i wake up in the morning its really sore and my cheek has swollen up , it just occured 3 days ago woke up and it was there , was thinking it might b toothache but doubt it please help !!

0 · August 05, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Almost all of us will experience this pain for a short amount of time until your muscles go back to normal as they usually do for men of all ages. Like any abnormality in your body it will be targeted and corrected.

For those of you that have complaints of a mild cold, you may want to see a doctor if the pain persists for more than 3 days and the pain intensifies. You could have a serious bacterial infection in your jaw. Other issues with this symptom and the mild cold is that a consistently intense cough will force you to open your jaw irregularly and clamp it back down, especially in your sleep.

Those of you with bad dental hygiene should also visit the doctor as well as the dentist. You have a serious infection in the underlying bones in your gumline that is spreading to closer parts of your body. This is why dental health is as dramatically significant as your overall health and well being.

For the rest of you, stress, teeth grinding and jaw clenching are all signs of stress. If you are not getting enough exercise then you will feel these symptoms in your jaw. Adult men tend to need regular exercise in order to release the tension they build up in their muscles. If you ever feel sore shoulders and tense or numbing pain in your back then you are not releasing the proper endorphiness that you would during a regular warm up and normal but non-intensive workout. Try joining a gym or putting or going out for nightly warm up and jog/walk. This should help your sleep issues significantly.

0 · July 16, 2012 at 02:07 PM

I too have a pain in my left ear down my jaw line. It hurts when I eat but not to the point I have to stop. I put alcohol in my ear at night and in the morning hoping that if it is an infection it will go away. But some mornings I wake up and the pain is really bad to where it is going down toward my collar bone. What is this? Is it and ear infection ? Is it a bad wisdom tooth? I don't know if I grind my teeth, I've never been told that I do. I sleep mostly 6 to 9 hours a night. So I am not getting a lack of sleep I am getting more then I really need some days. I woke up this morning on the left side where my ear hurts, my ear was hurting and all red on the out side and it hurt all the way to the collar bone. Anyone know what this could be or what to take or do to make this pain stop? Please help.:/

0 · June 23, 2012 at 09:03 PM

perhaps a stone has a salivatory duct blocked.

0 · May 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM

thanks for the post it helped me alot

0 · May 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM

I have the same pain in my left jaw.When I chew, like in the middle of a burger, my jaw makes this weird squishing noise for just a couple of seconds then it starts hurting so bad that I will usually have to stop eating. My oral surgeon told me that I was grinding my teeth at night. So I followed all his orders but still have the intense pain. I get the idea that he is not interested in my diagnosis or just thinks that I'm one of the many pain pill junkies around here and thinks that I'm lying.I will tell you that the pain is really starting to effect my way of life. I'm actually starting to lose a little weight because I'm not eating as much. This really sucks because it seems that there its no fix for me and the pain and discomfort just keeps getting worse.

0 · April 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM

Dude whats the medicine you had?

0 · March 28, 2012 at 09:13 PM

HI there

I was just noticing this info shared ,,,,,,,,I have the exact thing!

Sore jaw,sniffles,sore scrathy throat,lack of sleep......

I think there's more to this!

0 · November 03, 2011 at 04:41 PM

*strong text*I have had this same thing with my jaw for a week. Let me say this: To each his own, and I have a total respect for that. But for me personally, I would not consider a Chiropractor. I quit going to them when mine told me he could help 'cure' my wife's cancer.....anyway, I am taking all of the advice I've seen on this page, especially the post about the mouthpiece. Thx, Bill

3854 · January 02, 2011 at 05:40 AM

Almost all chicken in India is farm raised, in not the best conditions - including rampant use of antibiotics etc. and if you are buying prepared grilled chicken from the market, beware of the worst possible oils used for marinating/basting.

It is much safer to eat goat meat in India, as goats are almost never farm raised - they are left to graze and generally eat wild bushes. If you can cook your own, it is better, you can choose the quality of the cooking medium - Ghee and coconut oil are plentiful in the sub-continent.

Your problem seems to me a minor infection, ear or dental (wisdom teeth). Depending upon where you are in India - good medical services are easily available in all big towns. Use a doctors advice.

One more thing - Paneer is something you should avoid for some time - Milk in India is not the best, too much rBGH, too much growth hormones, too much anti-biotics _ there are no controls over the abuse of these substances in farmed cattle.

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