Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

by | Jun 30, 2022

To treat thoracic outlet syndrome, we must first understand what the condition is. Clinically speaking, the thoracic outlet is the region from the nerve roots that exit the cervical spine to the lower border of the axilla. The outlet is bordered by several muscles of the cervical spine, first rib, upper trapezius muscle, and clavicle among others. The blood vessels in this region course together as well. Whenever these structures are impinged, symptoms can occur. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) can occur as neurological or vascular meaning either the nerves or the blood vessels are to blame. When this occurs, one may experience symptoms such as; pain, paresthesia, numbness, weakness, discoloration, swelling, and loss of pulse. Everyday activities such as driving, typing, combing your hair, cleaning dishes, among others may cause these symptoms.

There are several causes to TOS, the most common is postural variations. We live in a world where everything we do requires our shoulders to round forward, our heads to lean forward, and our hands to internally rotate. Not to mention, who’s stressed these days? Soaring inflation, skyrocketing gas and grocery prices, everything is so expensive compared to a year ago and that causes stress for many of us. When we’re stressed, we tend to unknowingly tense our upper trapezius muscle and levator scapula muscle. As mentioned above the upper trapezius is a border for the brachial plexus. Also, when we’re stressed, we breath differently and stop using our diaphragm but our secondary muscles of respiration, which some are located as the boarders of the brachial plexus as well!

There are several tests I use to accurately locate the cause of TOS and address the root cause. Once the root cause has been established, I have several techniques that I perform on my patient to help alleviate the symptoms. From there I have my patients follow my plan of care which leads to great results! TOS is something that doesn’t go away in just one visit which is why I help educate my patients on correct posture, how to modify provoking stresses, and help them incorporate safe exercise into their daily routine. On my end I correct impaired posture, mobilize restricted connective tissue, joints, and muscle. Improving muscle performance and initiating proper breathing patterns are incredibly important. Once all aspects are address my patients have very favorable outcomes for years to come!

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