Thoracic outlet syndrome is a disorder in which the nerves and blood vessels in the space between the first rib and the collarbone become compressed. People with the condition can experience pain in the neck and shoulders, numbness in the fingers, neck and shoulders.
There are three main types of thoracic outlet syndrome.
The first of these neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, is a version of the condition that primarily involves the compression of the brachial plexus, a group of nerves that travel from the spinal cord through the shoulder joint and allow a person to rotate their shoulder and move their arms and hands. Physicians label this particular type of thoracic outlet syndrome “neurogenic” because the nerves create it.
The second is vascular thoracic syndrome. Blood vessels travel between the collar bone and the first rib. When they become compressed, it can create the symptoms described above, including numbness in the shoulder area.
The final type of thoracic outlet syndrome is “non-specific.” The non-specific version of the condition occurs when the patient reports symptoms, but the doctor can’t find any direct cause. Neither the blood vessels nor nerves appear impeded.
How To Fix Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Medical practitioners and researchers believe that a range of factors contributes to the onset of thoracic outlet syndrome. Anatomical defects can put certain people at risk from birth. But there’s also evidence that lifestyle factors may play a role.
One way people can “fix” thoracic outlet syndrome is by improving their posture. Those with forward-rolling or drooped shoulders put additional pressure on the space between the clavicle and the first rib, increasing the likelihood if developing thoracic outlet syndrome.
Improving posture is possible, but it usually requires the assistance of a chiropractor. By straightening up the shoulders, people with the condition can increase the space for nerves and blood vessels to travel. Our chiropractors can examine the mobility and function to see if you suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome. Our chiropractors can help restore the proper alignment and improve your motion.
Another way to fix thoracic outlet syndrome is to reduce the overall pressure on the joints. People who suffer from obesity experience extra load on the space between the collar bone and the ribs, forcing them together. Being obese has a similar effect on the region is wearing a heavy backpack.
Sometimes repetitive motion leads to the onset of thoracic outlet syndrome. Having to perform the same movements over and over again can lead to pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the area, leading to numbness and tingling.
Some occupations put people at a higher risk of developing the condition than others. Those who spend all day typing at a keyboard or performing the same action over and over in a factory are at greater risk than those whose jobs do not require repetitive movement. Overcoming thoracic outlet syndrome often requires changing roles or finding new ways to perform one’s work that does not involve doing the same motions.