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Neck pain and swelling, fingers and toes swollen, taking thyroid medication, no family history of arthritis.

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
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Hi, I am a 43 year old female - 180 pounds. I have not had significant health problems in the past. Three days ago, I started feeling like my lymph nodes were fighting something. It felt that the lower right, back of my neck / skull was swollen and felt hard / very stiff. Yesterday and today, I'm having constant throbbing pains in my right side of my neck about an inch under my ear. It is pretty painful. I went to the doctor - they said no infection / no swollen glands. Gave me an anti-inflammatory drug to take for 5 days. I've only taken one but nothing has really changed. The pain does feel like the pain you have when you are fighting an infection - I was surprised that it was not an ear infection (Although I knew this was farther away from the ear than a normal ear infection). My fingers and toes have been somewhat swollen in the mornings but get better pretty quickly. I am on thyroid medication (T3 10MCG / T4 15 MCG). No one in my family has had arthritis. Thanks for any help.
Posted Thu, 12 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Aparna Kohli 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query!

There are several causes of the pain that you are experiencing. These include carotidynia, migraine, thyroiditis, otitis externa, a XXXXXXX abscess, amongst others.

As I believe more information is the key to making accurate diagnosis, I would request you to answer the following questions.

a. Does the pain radiate to any other place like the shoulder, chest, arm, head or the back?
b. Do you have constant pain or is it present intermittently?
c. Is it associated with any visual disturbances?
d. Do you have any associated fever or malaise?
e. Has your ear been examined using an otoscope? If yes, what were the findings?

Further, the swelling in the fingers and toes could be possibly due to water retention. I would suggest that you drink a lot of water and avoid excessive salt to deal with this problem.

Awaiting your reply

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Neck pain and swelling, fingers and toes swollen, taking thyroid medication, no family history of arthritis. 1 hour later
Hi, thank you. This is helpful.

The pain does not radiate anywhere else. It is in the base of the back of my neck - right side and the right side of my neck.
The pain is pretty constant. The throbbing is with my pulse, I believe.
No visual disturbance.
No fever or malaise.
The doctor did look at my ear with an otoscope and said it looked fine / good.
Also, the doctor felt around and did nit feel any swollen glands / nodes.
She also mentioned that there was nothing noticeable on my skin.

Answered by Dr. Aparna Kohli 2 hours later

Thanks for reverting!

You could possibly be suffering from carotodynia or cervicogenic headache. The exact cause can be made out only after you've been evaluated by your treating physician.

Carotidynia occurs due to the dilation of the blood vessels outside the skull and can cause a dull throbbing pain in the neck. Carotidynia can occur due to several factors. The most common variant results from an unknown cause. Other causes include migraine and arteriosclerosis. The most common version is usually treated with pain killers like ibuprofen. However, since you mentioned that you did not get any relief with pain killers, a course of steroids may be tried. However, these are prescriptions agents and can only be obtained after consultation with your treating physician.

Cervicogenic headache can be caused by nerve compression between the vertebrae or spinal bones, excessive tenderness in the neck tissues due to trigger points and reduced neck range of motion or a stiff neck. This usually responds to massage therapy and postural retraining exercises.

I hope I have answered all your query. Please accept my answer if you have no further follow up queries.

Wish you a speedy recovery.

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