Sore, swollen thyroid - is surgery the only solution?

I first became aware of my thyroid problem 20 years ago, when the right side of my thyroid suddenly became painful and swollen. My blood results were normal, but ultrasound showed some cystic areas which were inconclusive, so the right thyroid lobe was removed. After I recovered from the surgery I continued to experience some discomfort in the thyroid area and was referred back to the surgeon, who did the usual tests and told me it was all "in the mind". So I went away again and just put up with it. Some days I would feel really tired, with a sore, heavy, swollen thyroid, but then on others I would feel almost normal and eventually the swelling would subside. This went on for years and I just learnt to live with it - I had to badger my GP for blood tests to check that my thyroid was still functioning well, and it always was. Sometimes the discomfort would flare up again and I would be referred again - this has happened three times in the past 20 years. On each occasion I had blood tests and ultrasound guided FNA - and was told that my left (remaining) thyroid was full of benign cysts. Usually the discomfort would last for weeks, even a few months, then eventually it would settle. Then three months ago my thyroid started to feel really sore again and became swollen and painful. It was honestly the most painful I had ever had it and I felt dreadful. I was again referred to a surgeon and had the usual ultrasound and FNA. I was told that I have multiple benign epithelial cells and that half of the sample taken shows Hurthle cell change. The largest cyst is 1.7cm, which I know is considered 'small'. The blood results were TSH 2.71 and T4 16.3. The surgeon told me that the cysts will probably continue to grow and that eventually I may need to have the remaining thyroid lobe removed because of pressure symptoms, but it will be entirely my decision. He thought that the pain and discomfort was probably caused by a bleed into a cyst and said that it should settle again. It hasn't - three months later I am still in just as much discomfort and just about at my wits' end with it. I don't have pressure symptoms - I can swallow and breathe perfectly well. However there is just this constant tingly ache deep within my neck, all day, every day. I feel tired and generally a bit unwell. I have tried to keep myself as healthy as possible - exercising and following a good diet and have had several sessions of acupuncture in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort, but nothing has worked. I really don't want to have surgery because my thyroid function is within the normal range (so I am told) - so why mess around with something that is working? I would be really grateful to hear of anyone who has had a similar experience and especially if there are any recommendations for homeopathic or other alternative treatments. Thank you.

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