Why Are Wrestlers Ears Deformed?
The ear deformation is most common among prize-fighters and martial arts competitors such as boxers, mixed martial artists, wrestlers, martial artists, and in full-contact sports such as rugby union football. However, when observed in minors, it may also be a symptom of child abuse.
Historically, the ear deformation has usually been seen with wrestlers. An extensive literature and serious science on this condition developed between the 1860s and the turn of the century. It was defined as “An effusion of blood or of bloody serum between the cartilage of the ear and its perichondrium, occurring in certain forms of insanity and sometimes among the sane”.
Alienists (psychiatrists) advanced various theories linking it to abnormalities of bone, blood, blood vessel (specifically the carotid artery) or brain in the insane. Some thought it was involved in all types of insanity, while others thought it to be worse “in those forms of insanity in which the mental excitement runs high for any length of time”.
By the end of the first World War the topic disappeared from the medical press and the experts moved on to new fashions. Its mainstream acceptance as a psychiatric symptom has been said to have relevance to scientific and conceptual concerns over psychiatric diagnosis today.
Cauliflower ear (complication of hematoma auris, perichondrial hematoma, or traumatic auricular hematoma) is a condition that occurs when the external portion of the ear suffers a blow, blood clot or other collection of fluid under the perichondrium.
This separates the cartilage from the overlying perichondrium that supplies its nutrients, causing it to die and resulting in the formation of fibrous tissue in the overlying skin. As a result, the outer ear becomes permanently swollen and deformed, resembling a cauliflower.
Headgear called a “scrum cap” in rugby, or simply “headgear” or earguard in wrestling and other martial arts, that protects the ears is worn to help prevent this condition. For some athletes, however, a cauliflower ear is considered a badge of courage or experience.