diagram showing thoracic outlet syndrome B1

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Overview

The thoracic outlet is a small opening between the neck and shoulder through which an important bundle of nerves (the brachial plexus) as well as a major vein and artery pass. These nerves and blood vessels supply the arm.


Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of TOS may include arm numbness, pain, pins and needles, coldness or heaviness of the arm. The ulnar nerve is the most commonly compressed and this supplies the inside of the elbow, the little finger and the ring finger so symptoms are often felt but not confined to these area. Sometimes TOS may affect the whole hand, arm, neck and even the side of the face. Symptoms are often aggravated by overhead activities (such as hanging out washing or sleeping with the arm overhead) put traction on the brachial plexus.

How We Can Help

Your Physiotherapy Programme for overcoming Thoracic Outlet Syndrome begins with a thorough assessment to assist with diagnosis and determine which underlying causative factors need to be addressed. Treatment may involve stretching, massage, mobilisation, strengthening exercises and / or posture re-education.

We may recommend a Clinical Pilates rehabilitation programme to ensure that you receive adequate supervision. This helps ensure good posture and technique when performing your exercises.

The Feldenkrais Method is particularly useful in helping you overcome longstanding habits and patterns of tension, which are frequently major contributing factors in Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

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