What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and do I have it?
Are you experiencing pain throughout your neck and shoulders? Does this pain radiate a numbness and tingling sensation down into your arm or hand? If so, you may have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
We recommend that if you are experiencing these symptoms you pop in for an evaluation. While these symptoms may be associated with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – our physical therapist and occupational therapists will complete multiple diagnostic tests to rule out other factors or potential diagnoses.
Why do I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?
Nerves exit from your spinal column to innervate the various tissues throughout your body. The nerves that go down your arm and into your hand, exit the spinal column in the neck. After exiting the spinal column, these nerves must run between muscles and bones on its journey down the arm. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome occurs when the nerves become compressed at some point along its route. Some common sites of compression include: between the first rib and the collarbone, between scalene musculature, below the coracoid process and the pectoralis minor.
Don’t lose hope – our Doctors of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy can help!
We would love to assist you with conservative treatments to prolong your functioning and reduce the likelihood of surgical intervention.
How can I manage Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?
Posture is key! When your shoulders are slumped forward, the space of the thoracic outlet is decreased – thus compressing the neural tissues. To decrease the tension on the nerve and increase the amount of space in the thoracic outlet, be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Keep your shoulders back and your head up!
Exercises for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
Below are a few exercises you can start doing NOW, as you schedule an appointment with one of our skilled therapist:
First Rib Mobilization with Lacrosse Ball:
Keeping your back straight, push your shoulder (as close to your neck as you can get) into a lacrosse ball – use as much force as you can tolerate. This will slightly mobilize your first rib and increase the amount of space between your clavicle and first rib – a common site of compression! When doing this, hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat twice.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing by laying on your back – placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath into your stomach – the hand on your chest shouldn’t move and the hand on your stomach should raise as you breathe. Breathing like this keeps the first rib from elevating.
Be sure not to sleep on the affected side! Laying on your back is ideal, however, laying on the non-affected side with a pillow between your arms, to keep your shoulders from rounding is okay too!
*If you are experiencing pain or as a result of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – please give ProTailored Physical Therapy a call today at 260-739-0300!