Have you noticed that your arm or hand becomes numb while reaching overhead? Or while resting your arm on the open car window? Though these symptoms could be due to a variety of diagnoses, you may have a condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).
The Thoracic Outlet is an area in your body between your collar bone and the top of your rib cage. Many arteries, veins, nerves and muscles travel through this ‘outlet’ or “inlet”, to connect the neck and the arm. If problems arise in this area and cause compression of one or multiple structures, it will result in symptoms including numbness and tingling in the arm and hand, as well as possibly neck or shoulder pain.
There are many reasons why Thoracic Outlet Syndrome may occur. A few include repetitive motions overhead, poor posture, the presence of an extra rib, or pregnancy. While Thoracic Outlet Syndrome often takes a team of doctors to diagnose, Physical Therapy is a common form of treatment to aid in pain and symptom relief. Treatment may include stretching to a specific group of neck muscles; postural exercises and education regarding the condition. The general outcome is good in most cases unless a structural issue exists that cannot be remedied through conservative efforts.