I've had a similar problem for probably 50 years. The cartilage around my ear gets very painful and any little movement, even a small burp, will send a sharp pain through my outer ear area. I can go several years without any problem. I can tell when it's coming. I feel a little heaviness in the outer ear and if I take a Vicodin ASAP, it will go away, but if I don't take it soon enough it gets worse and worse. I have it now and am on my 3rd day, the longest one yet. I didn't get the Vicodin in time. I cannot lay on that ear in bed. Lowering my head or touching my earlobe sends the pain through my ear. It's always the left ear. Doctors have never been able to tell me what it is.