First prize for MMA youngsters – Cauliflower ear


August 1, 2008
John Hookham

One would think that injury treatment in most sports was a vital part of maintaining the athlete’s ability to participate. Lately, a new trend taking hold of aspiring MMA youngsters seems to be defying this rule.

Like the dreaded knuckles that come from years of Karate training on Makiwara, Cauliflower ears – a name given to a deformity of the outer ear – is the latest widespread ailment in the world of contact martial arts.

The condition most commonly appears in practitioners who receive repetitive blows or chaffs to the ear and fail to receive professional medical treatment. Rather than trying to avoid the condition, many youngsters think of having permanently damaged ears as a sign of being tough, and try to attain the deformity by avoiding all medical treatment:

“Unfazed by the prospect of living life as a walking what’s-grosser-than-gross joke, a nationwide corps of professional fighters, amateur enthusiasts and teenagers have taken to leaving their ears untreated or self-treated, wearing their shriveled, hardened waxen auricles as badges of honor.”

Those who choose to treat the injury often attempt to do so themselves, without professional consultation:

“The role of machismo extends to treatment, or lack thereof. Once the condition develops, some fighters seem willing to try anything as long as it does not involve a doctor. Many young men cannot afford medical care, but there is also a do-it-yourself ethic at work.”

Whatever the reasons behind this urge, it is obvious that a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to treating injuries is extremely dangerous. Here’s a youtube clip that shows how to “drain your cauliflower ear”.

I do not recommend it; anyone with a cauliflower ear should seek medical drainage as soon as possible. The hardened tissue in the ear is highly susceptible to infection, and instead of a “badge of honor”, an acute infection of the outer part of the ear could lead to getting a “no ear at all”.

We here in Akban started MMA-ing in the begining of the 1990’s and soon discovered that the best way to deal with it is using an ear protector.
image This is why so many of our veterans look like they are communicating with aliens. Well, who could tell what goes on in the mind of someone finishing 24 hours of sparring – maybe these contraptions are alien gear after all.

link to the IHT article

See also:
Head injuries in martial arts
Better to rest after a head injury