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The thyroid is a gland in the front of a person’s neck that develops hormones which regulate blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and the amount of time it takes for energy to be produced from food. A connection between the thyroid and neck pain is commonly caused by a few different thyroid conditions. Pain in a person’s neck may be associated with Hashimoto’s disease, goiter, and cancer.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder that develops because of a lack of thyroid hormone. It is usually associated with symptoms like depression, weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, intolerance to cold, constipation, impaired memory, and blurred vision. Hashimoto thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune condition that commonly causes hypothyroidism. The symptoms of this disease are often the same as hypothyroidism, but may be accompanied by an enlarged thyroid and neck pain.
Goiter indicates that the thyroid in a person’s neck has become swollen. Along with an enlarged thyroid gland and pain in the neck, a person might also feel like his throat is full and may have trouble breathing or swallowing because of it. Sometimes the enlarged thyroid is visible on the surface of the skin. The enlarged nodules that are associated with goiter may cause signs of either hyperthyroidism — the development of too much thyroid hormone — or hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms that are often seen in hyperthyroidism are weight loss, anxiety, palpitations, tremors, insomnia, and disturbances in vision.
Another connection between the thyroid and neck pain can sometimes be cancer. Thyroid cancer generally affects a small number of people every year, and is caused by cells in the body that begin to reproduce in an abnormal manner. Excess cells can form a tumor in the thyroid. Many times these tumors are non-cancerous, but at times they may be malignant.
The four main types of malignant thyroid tumors are follicular, anaplastic, papillary, and medullary. Each kind develops and metastasizes differently. A doctor can identify each one by the way it appears under the microscope. Symptoms of thyroid cancer usually do not appear at first, but may develop over time. These may include visibility of the thyroid and neck pain, trouble breathing, swelling of the lymph nodes, a lump, or changes in a person’s voice.
Women, people who have a family history of thyroid conditions, and those who are over the age of 50 are much more likely to have problems with their thyroids. The risk also increases if a person smokes, is pregnant, or takes pills or supplements that contain iodine. If treatment is not sought, symptoms will continue and may become worse.