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Neck Pain with Hypothyroidism and Menstruation

Q: Two years ago, I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid and around the same time I began experiencing a dull pain in the back of my neck that coincided with my period. Sometimes it's so overwhelming I have to call in sick, but as soon as my period ends, so does the pain. Could my thyroid be causing this, and what can I do about it?

Dr. Donnica:
It is unclear whether your hypothyroidism is causing your neck pain, but it is clear that it's time for you to have a check-up! You didn't mention whether you are taking thyroid replacement hormone. People with hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) often have joint and muscle symptoms, including pain, stiffness and swelling, which may be caused by low levels of thyroid hormone. While massage and over-the-counter pain relievers may help, you probably need your thyroid hormone levels checked and adjusted if necessary.

Many women with hypothyroidism or other joint or pain syndromes (e.g. arthritis or fibromyalgia) report that their symptoms are worse either just before or during their menstrual periods. While we don't have a great explanation for this, some women with these complaints feel better when taking birth control pills to regulate their cycle (whether or not they need them for contraception). You may want to discuss this with your doctor as well.

Created: 4/3/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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