The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that regulate every aspect of the metabolism from the heart rate to how quickly an individual burns calories.
Thyroidectomy is generally recommended for conditions such as thyroid cancer, non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid or even in certain cases of hyperthyroidism. It is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes several hours. A small incision is made in the front of the neck and all or part of the thyroid gland is removed, depending on the reason for the surgery. Generally people experience a temporary neck pain and a hoarse weak voice after the surgery.
Some of the side effects of the surgery include pain when swallowing and neck stiffness. After the surgery patients are asked to stay in bed the first day. If hospitalized, then the patient remains on an intravenous drip for nutrition, as swallowing and eating becomes difficult. Complications are relatively uncommon but a few do occur. These are feelings of numbness and tingling around lips, hands and bottom of the feet, muscle cramp and spasms, headaches, anxiety, neck stiffness and tenderness, etc.
It is a normal tendency for those who have undergone the surgery to hold the head stiffly in one position after surgery. This causes neck and muscle tension. Patients are advised to do some gentle stretching and a range of motion exercises to prevent muscle stiffness in the neck area. Simply turning the head to the right, then rolling the chin across the chest until the head is facing left, can help loosen tight muscles.
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