What it does?
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition where symptoms are produced from compression of nerves or blood vessels, or both, because of an inadequate passageway through the area between the base of the neck and the armpit. Numbness and tingling through the fingers, pain in the shoulder, arms and neck are caused by the compressed nerves through the upper anterior torso. The passageway that these nerves and blood vessels use to exit the chest is referred to as the thoracic outlet, which supplies the upper extremities. Bordering around the thoracic outlet is also muscle, bone and other tissue.
Any condition that results in the enlargement of the tissue near the thoracic outlet can cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. These conditions can be: muscle enlargement, injuries, an extra rib extending from the neck, weight gain and in rare cases tumours at the top of the lung. Often no specific cause is detectable.
How to tell if you have it?
Thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Arm pain
- Numbness and tingling of the fingers, and
- Restricted circulation to the extremities (shoulders, arms, neck) causing discolouration.
How to treat it?
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be treated with conservative measures that usually consist of stretching the Thoracic Outlet – these can be performed either with or without weights in the hands to pull the outlet into a relaxed open position. Shoulder shrugging exercises can be done to relax the muscles around the outlet and relieve tension in the bordering muscles and tissue. Massage is a great mechanism in the management of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, by treating the muscles around and near the thoracic outlet to reduce the amount of compression on those nerves due to tight muscles.
If these symptoms are similar to what you are experiencing, or if you have general shoulder and neck pain, book in with one of our remedial massage health care professionals located at 5 convenient locations. Visit prohealthcare.com.au or phone us at Pro Health Care Mitcham, Kidman Park, Hope Valley, Stirling or Norwood to book an appointment.
Tyler Jarman, Massage Therapist