Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a specific condition where nerves or blood vessels between the collar bone and first rib are compressed causing pain in the shoulder and neck and/or numbness down the arm.

 

Types of TOS


The main types of TOS include:
Neurogenic (Neurological) - compression of the brachial plexus that come out from nerves in the neck that go down the arm to control muscle movements and sensations.
Vascular - either the veins or the arteries are compressed by the collar bone
Non-Specific - where there is pain at the thoracic outlet with increased activity but there is nothing specific that can be pin pointed.

 

 

Symptoms


Symptoms may vary and can include:

 

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Wasting
  • Discolouration
  • Swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Lack of pulse
  • Cold extremity
  • Fatigue in arm

 

Causes


Compression of the nerves and blood vessels can occur through many different ways.  Sometimes birth defects are a cause along with poor posture which leads to compression in the thoracic outlet.  Trauma, repetitive activity and added pressure on the area i.e. carrying an heavy back pack.  And finally pregnancy as joints loosens and hormones come into play with swelling etc.

 

Easy steps can be taken to avoid TOS once you know where the compression is coming from.  Avoid repetitive movements and lifting heavy objects.  Stretch daily and keep shoulder muscles strong with good posture.

For pain, numbness and tingling down the arms it is important to rule out other conditions that may be causing similar symptoms. These include disc bulges in the neck, tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you need help with any advice or treatment of these symptoms book in an appointment with our Chiropractors to discuss and evaluate your condition.  Call 9298 8332.