Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). At Graham Chiropractic Center, we aim to provide you with essential information about this condition and how our skilled chiropractors can help you find relief and improved well-being.

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a complex and often misunderstood condition that involves compression of the nerves and blood vessels in the thoracic outlet, a narrow space between your collarbone (clavicle) and first rib. This compression can result in pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand.

TOS can be classified into three main types:

  1. Neurogenic TOS: This type occurs when the nerves passing through the thoracic outlet, such as the brachial plexus, are compressed, leading to symptoms like pain, weakness, and numbness in the arm and hand.
  2. Vascular TOS: Vascular TOS is characterized by compression of the blood vessels in the thoracic outlet, causing symptoms such as coldness, discoloration, and swelling in the arm and hand.
  3. Non-specific or Disputed TOS: Some cases of TOS do not fit clearly into the neurogenic or vascular categories, and the symptoms may be less well-defined.

Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

TOS symptoms can vary depending on the type and location of compression but may include:

  1. Pain: Dull, aching pain in the neck, shoulder, and down the arm, which may worsen with certain movements or activities.
  2. Numbness and Tingling: Sensations of pins and needles or numbness in the arm and hand.
  3. Muscle Weakness: Weakness or fatigue in the arm and hand, leading to difficulty with gripping or lifting objects.
  4. Swelling and Discoloration: In vascular TOS cases, the affected arm and hand may become swollen, and the skin may appear bluish or pale.
  5. Cold Sensation: Patients with vascular TOS may experience coldness in the affected arm.

Causes of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

TOS can have various underlying causes, including:

  1. Anatomical Factors: Certain individuals may have a naturally smaller thoracic outlet, making them more susceptible to compression.
  2. Poor Posture: Prolonged poor posture, such as slouching, can contribute to TOS by putting additional pressure on the thoracic outlet.
  3. Repetitive Movements: Activities that involve repetitive arm movements, such as overhead work or heavy lifting, may increase the risk of developing TOS.
  4. Trauma: Injuries or accidents that affect the neck and shoulder region can lead to TOS.

Chiropractic Care for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

At Graham Chiropractic Center, we understand the complexities of TOS and offer individualized treatment plans to address the unique needs of each patient. Our chiropractors will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause of your TOS and may recommend a combination of the following treatments:

  1. Chiropractic Adjustments: Gentle adjustments may be applied to improve spinal alignment and relieve pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the thoracic outlet.
  2. Postural Correction: Our team will provide guidance on improving posture to reduce strain on the neck and shoulder region.
  3. Soft Tissue Therapy: Targeted soft tissue techniques can help release tension in muscles and improve overall mobility.
  4. Exercises and Stretches: Customized exercises and stretches will be prescribed to strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles and improve flexibility.
  5. Ergonomic Recommendations: We may suggest modifications to your workstation or daily activities to prevent aggravation of TOS symptoms.