Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Have you ever had a pain that starts in your neck but also shoots down to your shoulder, and sometimes even down into your arm or hand?  It could be a number of things including Cervical Spine radiculopathy or thoracic outlet syndrome.

tosBasically what happens is that the nerves exit from the spinal cord to the side of your neck also pass through behind the collar bone and down to the shoulder and down the arm.  There are spaces in your body for those nerves to bend and stretch as you move your head and shoulder.  However sometimes that space can get closed up.  This happens because of old injuries, poor posture and various other reasons.  The space will be narrowed to the point where it impedes on the space of the nerves and it starts irritating them.  Next what follows is pins and needles, tingling, numbness, pain and sometimes even weakness of your arm.

So….what do we do about this?

The first step with treatment is making a list of all your symptoms which seem to be present even if the symptoms are vague.  Keep track of what activities and positions reproduce or alleviate the symptoms or what time of day they are the worst.  Any details will help us de determine a diagnosis and rule out other possibilities.

tos3Once the diagnosis is decided, every effort is made for a conservative treatment approach.  Meaning it won’t hurt.  Conservative treatment usually includes mobilization/adjusting of the area, soft tissue therapy, stretching exercises, and postural retraining.  If your symptoms persist for more than 3 months, there is intractable pain, vascular loss, or neurologic loss, then surgery should be considered.

If you are in neck or shoulder pain and are in or around Utah County, please call us at 801.893.1010 or email me at