Posted by: lsadler | June 28, 2010

Do your ears feel ‘full’? It could be tight neck muscles…

We have several muscles in our neck that help to hold up our head. The sternocleidomastoid, or SCM for short, can cause a variety of problems with our head. Even though it is a neck muscle, it runs from behind our ear to our collar bone in the front of our neck. This muscle is what I call ‘quiet’ because the symptoms you normally experience related to this muscle never feel like they actually manifest there. When the SCM and other muscles in the neck, like the scalenes get tight they can block the normal flow of fluids, thus causing a feeling that your ears are full. They can even cause a ‘false’ sore throat. By massaging the trigger points in these muscles, it can reduce the amount of tension and in effect open the ear channels to alleviate the feeling of fullness in the ears. It may take several treatments to see major improvements, but you should feel some changes even after one massage. If you suffer from this annoying condition, try getting a massage and ask your therapist to work the SCM and scalene muscles specifically. If you don’t have any results after a few massages, then it’s time to consult a doctor.


  1. I’ve had this exact feeling for months, along with the false sore throat and this is the first time I’ve seen any acknowledgement from anyone else that it even exists – thank you!


    • this article has been an eye opener.


  2. I have this problem!


  3. is it also possible for this condition to cause tingling in the face – only on the side of the sore neck and clogged ear though?


    • Your neck may be out of alignment and/or you may have some compression in the vertebrae. If that is the case, that could be the source of the tingling in your face. Tightness in the muscles in the front of the neck can be the cause of the fullness in the ears, but also can add to the compression of the cervical spine. If you can’t find a massage therapist that knows how to address this, I would go to a physical therapist. Your thoracic spine may also be tight and can contribute to the neck issues. I would have whoever works on you check for that as well.


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