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What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is an umbrella term to describe a few different conditions whereby the brachial plexus (a network of nerves formed from the lower levels of the neck) becomes compressed at specific sites between the neck and the armpit.

Common sites of compression are between the scalene muscles of the neck and under the pectoralis minor muscle

Thoracic outlet syndromes are often misdiagnosed as neck or shoulder problems, and they frequently cause pain in this area, as well as numbness into parts of, or the entire upper limb, weakness and muscular fatigue, as well swelling and temperature change in the arm. Very occasionally, swelling and discoloration of the arm may occur.

TOS is more common in overhead athletes and office workers, as both of these may cause a compression of the area. The condition may also be related to congenital muscle and bone shape, or may be brought on due to trauma to the injury

Diagnosis is based on an analysis of the history of the condition, a physical examination to rule out shoulder and neck issues, as well as a cluster of special tests specific to TOS

Treatment focuses addressing biomechanical causes of the issue, and commonly includes shoulder muscle strengthening and postural re-education. Some cases of TOS are actually brought on by postural advice to pull the shoulders back and down, which in itself leads to compression of the area.

If you or someone you know are experiencing neck or shoulder pain with associated numbness or other strange symptoms contact us now to set up an appointment


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