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ellienewfan (@ellienewfan)

Extreme outer ear pain: What can it be?

Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) | Last Active: Aug 8 2:37pm | Replies (402)

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I’ve had this same problem for over 10 years and spent hundreds of dollars on different pillows. I get headaches in the morning because I don’t get enough sleep. I finally found an article that makes sense and I plan to go see my doctor to get tested for “relapsing polychondritis”. I think I have a mild case of this and hopefully my doctor can prescribe something. I am really tired of the sleepless nights and pain

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Replies to "I've had this same problem for over 10 years and spent hundreds of dollars on different..."

Put biofreeze on your ears. I have to do that and it helps. Or icy hot

Hi @salty and @jennyt,

Welcome to Connect. It must be so frustrating to not get adequate sleep, and waking up with pain due to unknown cause!

In my research on the internet, I came across a condition known as Chondrodermatitis Nodular Helices, which is basically a small, painful, inflammatory nodule or growth attached to the cartilage of the outer ear; you can read more about it, here, http://bit.ly/2pvBj47.
The study suggests that pressure damage, mainly from the weight of the head during sleep, is the most important cause, but it could also be due to pressure from hearing aids or or frostbite or trauma to the ear.

Similar to the above condition is, as @jennyt mentioned, relapsing polychondritis.
“Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a rare condition characterized by recurrent inflammation of cartilage…Ear involvement is the most common feature, but a variety of other areas of the body may be affected…” http://bit.ly/2pvbvF7
Connect member @marilly mentioned this condition in an older discussion, and I’m hoping she might return with more insight.

@salty, @jennyt do you take any medication for the pain? As @upartist mentioned, have you tried elevating the pillow, or perhaps using a ‘donut cushion’ when you sleep?

Going to reply directly to you – hopefully you will be notified. I wasn’t and was surprised to see the other posts made after my initial one. The vitamin and calcium remedy did work, but only for a few weeks. I have Prilocaine / Lidocaine cream by prescription for another ailment and I decided to try it. I put a small amount over the area of my ear that hurts at night just before bed, and it works most of the night – sometimes all night. Maybe your doc would be willing to prescribe for you. Good luck. I know exactly how miserable you are.

That is what my doctor said Relapsing Polychondritis, although I am not sure I can believe that. 2 Motrin an hour before bed will give you a Restfull nights sleep. Not good for long term though.

No – you surely don’t want to have to take Motrin every single night. I’m not aware of any side effects of repeated use of the caine cream, but it works amazingly well. Actually, I’ve had three nights in a row with no pain and no cream or vitamin treatment. Don’t ask me to explain why that would be because I’ve had the pain every single night with the exception of the brief relief after starting the calcium and D, and the nights I did use the cream till now. I don’t understand what’s different, but something is. I’m certainly not going to complain about it and just be thankful for whatever it is. Hope you find a safe and reliable way to combat yours.

Thanks. Where do you buy this?

There is an OTC cream with only Lidocaine in it and you can get it at any pharmacy, but the cream I’m using has Lidocaine and Prilocaine in it, and It’s by prescription only. I don’t know if the OTC one would be as effective. If you’ve been in contact with your Dr. about this, maybe he/she would be willing to give you a prescription for it if you try the OTC one and it doesn’t provide relief for you.

This is my first time to post here so I may not be doing it correctly. I was diagnosed with Chondrodermatitis Nodularis helicis. my outer right ear extremely painful!!
Here is a link that tells all about it. It is also referred to as Winklers disease. http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/chondrodermatitis.html. As far as I know there is no cure. I don’t have but a very small leasion when it gets really irritated. My doctor said stay off that ear when sleeping! Sad for me because if I sleep on my left side, I get dizzy. So that only leaves sleeping on my back. So I ordered a pillow called “Pillow with a hole in the middle”…..but I didn’t like it because it was too uncomfortable because it was too hard and hurt my neck. But the hole did give relief for my ear. Then I tried sleeping for two months with my arm folded under my head, no pressure on my ear, but I’m now having headaches.
My standard size pillow is Very soft and I can punch a hole and put my ear there and that gives a little relief, until the pillow starts fiilling in the hole. So it is nights of fluffing my pillow and making a hole for my ear. My doctor said the outer cartilage of my ear is inflamed, so I guess that is why some anti-inflammatory pills would help…..but as someone said they can be bad for your stomach. I will stop here, I am very sorry that some of you have this condition, I know how much we all long for a good nights sleep!

@franjan I am so sorry to hear of this chronic ear pain that interferes with your sleep – how unfortunate. It sounds as if you have tried a lot of different remedies. I hope that you are able to find some relief. Keep in touch with Mayo Connect and read some of the other posts with people who have outer ear pain. I hope that you find a solution for your pain soon. Teresa

@hopeful thank you for your reply. I am having a bit of trouble understanding the order of the posts. They seem to be rather mixed in the dates and times they are written. What do I need to do to correctly read the posts in order? Thanks for any help with this.
I see that many here are finding some relief with putting icy-hot etc. on before going to sleep. If there is any leasion at all on the ear, wouldn’t that cause a lot of burning? I imagine most of us would be willing to try most everything. :-).