Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
The thoracic outlet is the site of the lower neck and upper chest. It has a many nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and bones that run through a small site. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is when the nerves and blood vessels are squeezed, irritated, or harmed.
|Thoracic Outlet Syndrome|
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor will ask you to hold your arms and head in positions that may cause TOS. The results of these tests will help show whether you have TOS.
You may also have:
- Blood tests
- Electromyography and other tests of the nerves
Pictures may be taken with:
- Chest x-ray
- CT angiography
- MRI scan
Treatment depends on the symptoms that you have. In most cases, TOS is treated with pain medicine and physical therapy.
You may need to take:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxants
- Blood thinners
- Anti-platelet medicines
A therapist will make an exercise plan. It will help to ease symptoms by relaxing nearby muscles, making your posture better, and easing pressure on nerves and blood vessels.
You may need to:
- Avoid activity that causes pain.
- Practice good posture.
- Avoid repetitive motion.
- Change your workstation layout.
- Exercise regularly.
If other treatments fail, your doctor may advise surgery. The goal is to move or remove the source of the pressure. In some people, this may mean taking out part or all of the first rib. This can make more room for the nerves and blood vessels.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Occupational Safety and Health Administration https://www.osha.gov
The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma http://www.nismat.org
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
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