Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
What is thoracic outlet syndrome?
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition that involves compression of the nerves and blood vessels that originate in the neck and serve the shoulder arm and hand.
The nerves and blood vessels that run into the arm and hand start at the side of the neck. They exit from the side of the spine through small openings between each vertebra. As they leave the spine the nerves are referred to as nerve roots. Then the individual spinal nerve root then join together to form the nerves that will run into to arm and hand. The nerves travel between two muscles in the neck (sca- lenes), over the top of the first rib, under the collar bone (clavicle), through the arm pit and down the arm to the hand.
What are the causes?
There are several causes of thoracic outlet syndrome. The common underlying cause of the syndrome is compression of the nerves and arteries of the arm where they run through the two scalenes muscles and between the first rib and clavicle. Some other causes include:
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Nerve Compression include:
How can massage therapy help?
Massage can be very useful to help promote relaxation, decrease compression from tight muscles and trigger points, decrease pain, decrease hypertonicity, maintain range of motion, improve tissue health and circulation and stretch shortened muscles.
Things to avoid:
Heavy lifting, pulling, pushing; rapid breathing; stress; looking up, bending the neck back; elevating the arms for long periods; carrying bags with a strap on the sore-side shoulder
Regular massage treatments and some simple exercises to keep your shoulder muscles strong will help to prevent TOS. Here are four that you can try; do 10 repetitions of each exercise twice daily:
As with any exercise program, if you start to hurt...stop!