The thoracic outlet is the space between your collarbone( clavicle) and your first rib. This narrow passageway is crowded with blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. Spasm and shortening from the pectoralis minor muscle can be a common source for compression to these vascular and nerve structures. At times, people are born with an extra set of ribs called cervical ribs which can also compromise this space. If the shoulder muscles in your chest are not strong enough to hold the collarbone in place, it can slip down and forward, putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that lie under it. This causes a variety of symptoms which together are known as thoracic outlet syndrome.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can result from an injury, disease, or a congenital problem, such as an abnormal first rib. It is more common in women than in men, poor posture, and obesity. These attributes can aggravate the condition.
Psychological changes are often seen in patients with thoracic outlet syndrome. It is not clear whether these changes are a cause or result of the syndrome. We recommend that you contact our office to schedule an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms.
Symptoms may vary depending on which nerve or blood vessels are compressed. It is more common to have symptoms from nerve compression than symptoms from blood vessels. Do not take a guess on which issue you are experiencing, instead call on us to diagnose and treat your symptoms and help you heal with our cryo treatments, active release therapy, or other specialized treatments that prove to give great results.
- Pressure on the nerves (brachial plexus) may cause a vague aching pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, or hand. It may also cause pain, numbness, or tingling on the inside of the forearm and the fourth and fifth fingers of the hand. Weakness may make your hand clumsy.
- Pressure on the blood vessels can reduce the flow of blood out of your arm, resulting in swelling and redness of your arm. Less commonly, pressure can reduce the blood flow into your arm and hand, making them feel cool and easily fatigued.
- Overhead activities are particularly difficult because they worsen both types of compression.
- There may be a depression in your shoulder, swelling, or discoloration in your arm.
- Your range of motion may be limited.
All of these symptoms, whether you are experiencing one or many can be exhausting and painful. Want relief? Call on us to provide you with the best cryotherapy, active release techniques, or other specialized treatment techniques. We look forward to helping you find relief and healing.