What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

When an onset of numbness, tingling or pain in the neck starts affecting your daily life, it can be concerning. Several conditions can explain this sensation, including the rare occurrence of thoracic outlet syndrome. At Advanced Orthopedics & Joint Preservation, we specialize in treating conditions that affect the shoulder, such as thoracic outlet syndrome. This vascular issue is less known, so our orthopedist in Brooklyn would like to share some more information with you. 

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic outlet syndrome can be defined as a group of disorders that occur when nerves or blood vessels in between your collarbone and the first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can lead to pain in your neck and shoulders, and numbness in your fingers. There are several types of thoracic outlet syndrome variations:

  • Vascular – This variation occurs when one or more of the arteries or veins under the collarbone are compressed. 
  • Neurogenic – This is the most common type of thoracic outlet syndrome. This type occurs when the brachial plexus is compressed. The brachial plexus is a nerve network that stems from your spinal cord. The brachial plexus controls sensation and muscle movements in your hands, arms, and shoulders.
  • Nonspecific-type – This type is disputed among doctors because some say it does not exist. Those with nonspecific-type thoracic outlet syndrome experience chronic pain in the area of the thoracic region that worsens with activity. The cause of pain from this type of thoracic outlet syndrome cannot be determined. 

Symptoms for thoracic outlet syndrome vary depending on which nerve structures are being compressed. Some of the symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome can include pain or aches in the neck, shoulder, or hand, numbness in the arms or fingers, and weakened grip. For the vascular type of this condition, symptoms can include discoloration, blood clots in the arteries or veins in the upper body, and numbness in the upper body. Our orthopedist in Brooklyn can help you determine the best course of action to address this condition. 

Causes of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by the nerves or blood vessels compressing in the thoracic outlet. This compression can be caused by several factors, potentially including the following:

  • Poor posture. 
  • Trauma.
  • Repetitive activity. 
  • Joint pressure. 
  • Pregnancy     
  • Anatomical defects. 

Treatment for this condition works best if you address it early on. Conservative treatments like physical therapy, medication, and clot-dissolving medications can also be effective treatment options. If these methods do not provide results, our orthopedist in Brooklyn may recommend surgery to provide relief. 

Contact Our Orthopedist in Brooklyn

Living with discomfort from thoracic outlet syndrome can make life difficult. At Advanced Orthopedics & Joint Preservation, we provide treatment for various conditions affecting the shoulder. To learn more about how we can help, contact our team today! 

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