Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or TOS? There are nerves and veins (neurovascular bundle) that pass thru the thoracic outlet, which is the space from the collar bone and the first rib. When this neurovascular bundle gets pinched or compressed in the thoracic outlet, you develop thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). This is associated with:
- pain, numbness, and tingling to the shoulder and arm
- coldness of the fingers
- neck pain
Causes of TOS
Any condition that causes the muscle to enlarge in the area and compress the neurovascular bundle can cause TOS. An extra rib, called cervical rib, can pinch on the bundle. In rare cases, tumors can also compress the bundle. Certain occupations can cause TOS such as those who have heavy use of arms against resistance like some construction workers, dentists, musicians that play the violin. Weight gain, obesity, poor posture, and poor sleeping posture are contributing factors.
Physical Therapy can help with thoracic outlet syndrome. Certain manual techniques and exercises to improve posture, and improve muscle strength has been beneficial. In severe cases, surgery has been successful in treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Postural awareness and exercises
- Exercises to the neck, shoulders, and chest
- Do not slouch when working on computer; takes rest periods and and stretch to avoid tightening up of muscles
- Do not sleep on stomach, or have arms overhead. Try to sleep with arms to the side, and on your back
- Reducing weight
- Reduce or avoid heavy lifting
Call us at KTS Physical Therapy at (443) 906-6070 if you are have thoracic outlet syndrome. If you have had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, we can also help you recover fast with our revolutionary treatment. Our physical therapists can evaluate and plan treatment for you to help you with this problem.