Patients who undergo thyroid surgery frequently suffer from unpleasant symptoms such as a stretching, choking, or pressing feeling or discomfort in the neck for a long time. The usefulness of rehabilitation (i.e., a stretching exercise) for reducing these symptoms after surgery has never been studied. In the present study, attempts were made to evaluate the usefulness of the stretching exercise in reducing disagreeable postoperative symptoms in the patients who had undergone thyroid surgery. A total of 409 patients, including 234 thyroid cancer patients, were randomly divided into a stretching group (n = 204) and a control group (n = 205). Patients in the stretching group were instructed that the stretching exercise was to be performed three times a day beginning the morning following surgery. A questionnaire survey was performed before surgery and then 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery. Total symptom scores obtained from the questionnaire survey from the control group and the stretching group were compared. The use of analgesics was also investigated. Postoperative neck symptoms declined gradually over the course of a year, and the total symptom scores were significantly (p < 0.001) lower in the stretching group than in the control group at all points throughout the year (1 week, 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year). The mean requirement for the use of analgesics during hospitalization was significantly (p < 0.0001) less in the stretching group (1.6 +/- 2.3 tablets, mean +/- SD) than in the control group (3.1 +/- 3.8 tablets). The stretching exercise had effectively reduced postoperative neck symptoms and also reduced the use of analgesics after thyroid surgery.