Thoracic Outlet Syndrome has been in the news recently as New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey will be undergoing season-ending surgery to address this injury. However, you don’t have to be a professional ball player to develop this disorder.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is actually a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels and nerves that run in the space between your clavicle and first rib (called your “thoracic outlet”) become compressed. This compression leads to shoulder pain, neck pain and numbness in your fingers.
Physical trauma to your shoulder in a car accident and repetitive use of the shoulder in sports or work are common causes of thoracic outlet syndrome. You are likely to feel the numbness or pain when lifting your arm above your head. Typical treatment includes physical therapy, pain medication and sometimes surgery.
Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome vary depending on what is being compressed in your shoulder. If your nerves are compressed, you are likely to feel numbness or tingling in your arms or fingers; pain or aches in your shoulder, neck or hand; wasting in the fleshy part of your thumb; and/or a weakening grip. This is the most common type of TOS.
If you are experiencing discoloration of your hand (bluish color); cold fingers, hands or arms; arm pain and swelling, possibly due to blood clots; arm fatigue after activities; weak or no pulse in your arm; weakness of the arm or neck; numbness or tingling in your fingers; throbbing lump near your collarbone; and/or a blood clot in the veins or arteries in the upper area of your body you may have vascular thoracic outlet syndrome where your veins or arteries are being compressed.
Remember, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to develop this disorder. If you consistently feel any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor. You should also visit an experienced personal injury attorney if you feel this disorder was caused by an accident or your work.