There are numerous causes for pain behind one ear, some of the most common of which include cervicogenic headaches, extracephalic idiopathic stabbing pains and cold-stimulus headaches, as listed by the Severe Headache Expert. This type of pain may also result from mastoiditis, according to WebMD.
Cervicogenic headaches are the most common cause of pain behind the ear and affect roughly 4 percent of the population, as stated by the Severe Headache Expert. They often result from degeneration of the joints in the upper neck; when they occur in younger adults, minor trauma may be the cause. Individuals may experience a dull or shooting pain that is often more severe upon awakening. Extracephalic idiopathic stabbing pains, also known as ice-pick headaches, may occur behind one of the eyes or the ears and generally only last a few seconds. Cold-stimulus headaches are most common in individuals with a history of migraines, and approximately 4 percent of people with headaches precipitated by the cold experience pain behind the ear.
Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection affecting the mastoid bone behind the ear, and it most commonly affects children, according to WebMD. In addition to tenderness behind the ear, sufferers may experience ear lobe swelling, fever, lethargy, drooping of the ear or drainage.