Behind the Ear Headaches: Why Do I Get Them and What Do I Do?

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If you’re human, you’ve probably had a headache. They happen all over- front, back, side, and behind the ears. There are actually three hundred different types of headaches that have been studied. They all have their own symptoms, regions affected, and severity. Often times, stress and simple forward head posture are to blame.

There are a number of reasons the notorious behind the ear headache may occur.


It might not be possible to identify why a headache occurs. Pain behind the ear may narrow down the potential causes.

Occipital neuralgia: The result of an injury or pinched nerves in the neck. This can happen if your neck is bent for a long period of time. Arthritis in the neck or shoulders might also be the culprit. Some people feel pain in the forehead or behind the eyes. Pain usually starts at the neck and travels upward.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ): The TMJ helps your jaw open and close. If the joint is misaligned, injured, affected by arthritis, the action of opening and closing the jaw becomes distressed. TMJ and jaw pain can be painful. This condition can lead to behind the ear headaches. At Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center we treat TMJ and jaw pain. See our most recent TMJ and jaw pain blog for more information.

Mastoditis: The mastoid bone is located behind the ear. If it becomes inflamed or infected, it leads to a condition called mastoiditis. Untreated infection of the middle ear is what usually leads to this condition. Headaches, fever, and loss of hearing are common symptoms.


When you are trying to find the cause of your headaches, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remembering where the headache occurs, severity, recent injuries, and activities leading up to the headache are important. If you suffer from consistent headaches, keeping a log book with some notes might help you and your doctor diagnose your symptoms.

If your headaches are severe and regular, a physical exam with your doctor is recommended. By pressing on the base of the skull, your doctor will be able to confirm whether or not you have occipital neuralgia. If your doctor feels it is necessary, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can be done.  Looking for symptoms of infection will also help rule out conditions like mastoiditis.


At Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center, we specialize in treating headaches.  Our headache program includes:

  • Strengthening of the scapular muscles to support the head and neck
  • Soft tissue and joint mobilization
  • Pressure Point Release to occipital, sub occipital, upper trapezei, and levator scapulae muscles
  • Modalities for pain relief including the 830MLaser and ice
  • A Comprehensive home exercise program

Call us at (714) 997-5518 to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physical therapists today!


Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center

1111 W. Town and Country Rd., Ste. 1

Orange, CA 92868

(714) 997-5519

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