What is hypoparathyroidism?

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Hypoparathyroidism: Overview

The parathyroid glands are found behind the thyroid gland in the neck. They release parathyroid hormone, which helps control how much calcium is in the blood. When these glands do not make or release enough of the hormone, the level of calcium in the blood can drop. This can cause many problems. These include belly pain, muscle spasms, and numbness and tingling in your hands, feet, and around the mouth.

The most common cause of this illness is an injury to the parathyroid glands during surgery on the neck. It happens most often after surgery on the thyroid gland.


Hypoparathyroidism is a condition caused by poor functioning of the parathyroid glands, which are the small glands that are located next to the thyroid gland in the neck. The parathyroid glands release a substance called parathyroid hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.

When the parathyroid glands do not produce enough hormone, the amount of calcium in the blood decreases. Symptoms of hypoparathyroidism include uncontrolled, painful movements (spasms) of the face, hands, and feet; and seizures.

Treatment may include an injection of calcium to provide immediate relief, as well as lifelong supplements of calcium and vitamin D tablets.

How can you care for hypoparathyroidism?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Take calcium and vitamin D tablets as directed by your doctor. You may have to take these for the rest of your life.

Hypoparathyroidism: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have muscle spasms.
  • You have pain in your belly, face, legs, or feet that is new or gets worse.
  • You have vision problems that are new or get worse.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.