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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

It is a group of conditions where the nerves, arteries and/or veins in the path from your lower neck to your arm pit are compressed.

Can physiotherapy help people with thoracic outlet syndrome?

Yes. Conservative treatment like physiotherapy is effective in the treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome. Surgery is only considered when conservative treatment fails.

What are the causes of thoracic outlet syndrome?

  • Compression of nerves

  • Compression of the subclavian artery or subclavian vein on the side of the throat or upper chest

  • Injury to the artery due to an abnormality in a neck rib or other bony irritation

  • Injury or compression of the vein. This could lead to a progressive narrowing of the vessel and eventual clot formation

  • Trauma

  • Repetitive arm movements

  • The presence of a cervical rib or other congenital abnormality

  • Tumour

  • Pregnancy

  • Poor posture

What are the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome?

  • Pain in the neck, collar bone region, chest, upper back, shoulder, arm, hand

  • Pins & needles, numbness in the arm, hand and fingers

  • Weakness of the arm and hand

  • Loss of dexterity/coordination in the hand

  • Muscle spasms in the arm and hand

  • Feeling of stiffness, heaviness and fatigue in the arm

  • Pain at rest and night pain

  • Dizziness, headaches, vertigo may occur

  • Decreased or absent arterial pulse

  • Swelling, coldness, colour change in the arm and hand

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