A study released on March 8, 2021, in the Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic documents the case of a patient suffering from auriculotemporal neuralgia (ATN) being helped by chiropractic. ATN can cause severe pain in one side of the neck and head.
The auriculotemporal nerve is a branch of the main nerves in the side of the face, head, and TMJ joint. When this nerve becomes painful, the stabbing-like pain can be extreme and can extend over the side of the head and neck. Although this condition is not very common, it is painful, and it typically treated medically by medications or nerve injections to the affected area.
In this case, a 64-year-old man went to the chiropractor seeking help for his right-sided neck pain that traveled up around his ear and side of his head. The man described his pain as a headache that started seven days ago, was constant, and felt like brushing the side of his head with an uncomfortable brush. He reported that his right ear was painful to the touch and he was waking up with a headache each morning. Although he had been taking ibuprofen, the pain was getting severe enough to wake him up at night. He rated the pain as a 7 out of 10 with 10 being the worst.
A medical examination did not reveal any abnormal findings. X-rays of his neck were taken that showed a reversal of the cervical curve and degeneration with fusion of several of his mid to lower neck vertebrae. Based on these findings, chiropractic care was started.
Two days after the start of chiropractic care, the patient returned and reported improvement in the pain over the side of his head and scalp. At that point, the ear pain had not changed. The patient was given some home instructions which included some stretching neck exercises.
On the man’s next visit five days later, he reported only mild ear pain in the morning with no other symptoms of his original pain issues. It was also noted that his range of motion in his neck had improved, and it was much less tender when his neck was touched. One week later, the man reported a complete resolution from all his symptoms.
In the study conclusions the authors wrote, “This report presents a case in which our experience, a patient responded favorably to chiropractic intervention for the likely diagnosis of auriculotemporal neuralgia.”