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Blocked
Ear Feeling

Are you Looking for a Solution for your Blocked Ear Feeling?

What causes a blocked ear feeling?

Even if it isn’t causing you pain, it is certainly disruptive. And annoying! And not just the difficulty hearing out of that ear. If you are like many people with a blocked ear feeling, it produces a pressure imbalance in your head: not a true headache or vertigo, but enough of an imbalance that you feel like your head it tilting and pulling your body to one side.

Intuitively, you know there isn’t anything wrong with your brain or your inner ear because when you stick your finger in your ear or squeeze your nose with your mouth closed to “unjam” the pressure, it does release! … But only lasts for a second before that blocked ear feeling comes back.

Sound about right?

A blocked ear feeling isn’t a true medical diagnosis. It isn’t really something where there’s a “blocked ear feeling specialist” either. That said, a blocked ear feeling is often a sign of an undiagnosed but often straightforward problem involving your jaw or upper neck.

And fortunately, there is a simple, natural treatment that may be able to help.

What no one has ever told you about a Blocked Feeling in Your Ear

The ear is anatomically divided into the inner ear, the middle ear and the outer ear. The outer ear includes your ear lobe and the ear canal until you reach the tympanic membrane (aka ear drum). Basically, your outer ear is anything that you can clean with a Q-Tip (without puncturing anything else).

The middle ear contains the three bones - incus, stapes and malleus - which transmit vibrations from the ear drum onto the neurosensory device of the inner ear. The middle ear also contains the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the nasal cavity and back of the throat. This passageway is essential for the normal equilibrium of air pressure for the middle ear … and it is intimately involved with a blocked ear feeling. More on that later.

The inner ear contains the neurosensory organ (the cochlea) that conducts these vibratory signals to the parts of the brain that interpret sound. Disruption to the cochlea may produce a myriad or symptoms including tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) and even varying degrees of deafness. It may also be associated a syndrome called Meniere’s disease, which does involve a blocked ear feeling but also involves dysfunction of the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear and may produce dizziness or vertigo.

The simple point I want to illustrate is that in the absence of other neurological symptoms, a blocked ear feeling usually does not involve a problem with the inner ear. Instead, the problem involves either the outer or the middle ear.

Let’s start with the outer ear. First, go ahead and lightly stick your finger in your ear just enough that it blocks your hearing. Now, open-and-close your mouth a few times. Can you feel your jaw moving against your finger?

The location of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) sits remarkably close to the ear canal. Often enough, a physical shift to the alignment of your jaw can produce a physical pressure, narrowing the opening of your ear canal. As a result, it can produce that “full” or blocked feeling as if there is something stuck in your ear. If so, it may be treatment for your jaw that will provide you the relief you’re looking for.

I’ll mention how to do that in just a little bit, but let’s go back to the Eustachian tube of the middle ear. And so that you know the whole story, I need to describe the role or your upper neck and its potential role in producing a blocked feeling in your ear.

What is the Role of your Upper Neck in a Blocked Ear Feeling?

The patency or “openness” of the Eustachian tube is controlled by four muscles: levator veli palatini (LVP), salpingopharyngeus (SP), tensor tympani (TT) and tensor veli palatini (TVP).

That’s a mouthful (no pun intended), and here is what that matters:

  • The LVP and the SP and controlled by branches of the vagus nerve; and the TT and TVP are controlled by branches of the trigeminal nerve.
  • The somatosensory neural processing centre for the vagus and the trigeminal nerves is the spinal trigeminal nucleus, which is located in your brainstem and descends into the upper part of your neck.
  • A problem involving the alignment or motion of the top bones in your neck can produce mechanical sensitisation, which affects the function of your nerves and thereby cause muscle tightness.

So if you have muscle tightness that causes your Eustachian tube to close - voila! - it can cause pressure to accumulate and produce a blocked ear feeling.

Moreover, if we go back and consider the role of your jaw in producing a blocked ear feeling, you may be interested to know that the muscles that control the position and movement of your jaw are also controlled by the trigeminal nerve.

Yes, the same nerve that we just mentioned. So the alignment and movement of the bones if your upper neck - namely the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) - also have a profound impact on jaw position, which can also produce that blocked ear feeling.

What is means is that the solution that you are seeking for the relief of your blocked ear may not have anything to do with your ear at all (which is why your scans have come back as “normal.”) The problem - and solution - may have everything to do with your neck.

If so, here is where a novel and natural approach called upper cervical care may be able to help you.

Can Upper Cervical Care Help your Blocked Ear Feeling?

If you are looking for a natural solution to help your blocked ear feeling, it is essential that the top bones in your neck are moving properly and aligned.

There are many types of therapy that focus on the upper neck and TMJ including general chiropractic, physiotherapy, osteopathy and massage. However, if you have not found a solution yet that has worked for you, you may need further investigation to determine the specific nature of your condition and the specific steps necessary to achieve the resolution that you are looking for.

If so, here is where Blair upper cervical care may be able to help you. Blair upper cervical care is a unique approach to chiropractic developed in the USA as a post-doctorate certification that focuses on the alignment of the upper neck without cracking, twisting or spinal manipulation.

What we do is not the same as what many people think of with a “chiropractor.” The procedure first involves a f history that includes a structural analysis to determine where you hold your physical stress, and if you have a condition involving your jaw or neck that could be related to the blocked feeling in your ear The second step involves a neurological assessment in order to establish your baseline pattern for where your health currently is. The third step involves a series of customised x-rays that we are able to perform on site, which reveal the degree of misalignment in your neck, and thus where we need to focus our efforts.

In other words, we don’t leave matters involving your health to chance.

Have you Tried Upper Cervical Care to Help Your Clicking Jaw?

If you have been looking for answers for the blocked feeling in your ear, you may have been struggling for answers. It is again because there is no specialist or direct treatment for it.

A blocked feeling in the ear is usually the result of a function disorder involving your muscles and nervous system that so happens to be affecting your outer or middle ear. Therefore, the solution may not involve treating the symptoms, but by addressing the cause for why your muscles and nerves are not behaving appropriately in the first place.

And because the upper neck has such a profound impact on your jaw and on the nerves that control your middle ear, it is arguably the most important place to start!

Our practice, located in North Lakes (north Brisbane) is dedicated to helping people with head, neck and jaw-related conditions that are affecting their ability to enjoy the success, freedom and life that they desire.

If you are looking for natural treatment to help with the blocked feeling in your ear - or if you have any other health concerns - please contact our practice in North Lakes (north Brisbane) at 07 3188 9329 to find out if Blair upper cervical care is right for you.

References

Grondin F, Hall T, von Piekartz H. Does altered mandibular position and dental occlusion influence upper cervical movement: A cross-sectional study in asymptomatic people. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2017 Feb;27:85-90. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2016.06.007. Epub 2016 Jun 15.

Schilder AG, Bhutta MF, Butler CC, et al. Eustachian tube dysfunction: consensus statement on definition, types, clinical presentation and diagnosis. Clin Otolaryngol. 2015;40(5):407–411. doi:10.1111/coa.12475.

Teschner M. Evidence and evidence gaps in the treatment of Eustachian tube dysfunction and otitis media GMS Curr Top Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Dec 15. doi: 10.3205/cto000132.

Westersund CD, Scholten J, Turner RJ. Relationship between craniocervical orientation and center of force of occlusion in adults. Cranio. 2016 Oct 20:1-7. doi: 10.1080/08869634.2016.1235254. [Epub ahead of print]

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