THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME



thoracic outlet syndrome causing neck and shoulder painWhat is it?

Compression of nerves and/or blood vessels passing through the thoracic outlet (clavicle/sternum, 1st ribs, Thoracic vertebrae).

Causes:

Blocking the passageway for the neural/vascular structures can be caused through some congenital abnormalities such as an extra rib or increased bony structures, trauma or repetitive strain such as weight lifting/poor posture.

Signs & Symptoms:

Neck/shoulder/arm pain, paraesthesia or numbness in arms/fingers, impaired circulation to the extremities.

Treatment:

Physiotherapy can assist to release the tissues surrounding the thoracic outlet, decreasing neural tension and improving spinal mobility. Education regarding strengthening and posture correction is important. Surgical intervention is required in severe cases of neural/vascular compression.

Prognosis: 

Most symptoms can be resolved through conservative management with physiotherapy and behaviour/postural education. A period of 6 months or longer may be necessary to make a lasting effect.