Does Exercise Help With Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic outlet syndrome or TOS is a common condition that affects approximately 8% population. It presents itself with pain between the neck, face, shoulder, chest etc. The diagnosis is possible, yet you can’t pinpoint where the pain originates. Let’s take a closer look at thoracic outlet syndrome, its diagnosis and exercises that benefit the patients.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is when you have swelling, pain or any other symptom from the compression in the thoracic outlet of your body – the opening area situated between the lower neck and upper chest. It results in numbness and tingling sensation in the arms and pain while raising it as well.

Muscles run through your thoracic outlet from the neck towards your shoulder with blood vessels throughout your arms.

Sites of Compression

Concerning anatomical sites, there are 3 areas that are compressed that result in this issue.

  • Interscalene Triangle – this area is between anterior and middle scalene and its borders are created by anterior scalene muscle anteriorly and first rib inferiorly.
  • Costoclavicular Space – is present between the first rib and clavicle, surrounded by subclavius muscles on the anterior side and clavicle superiorly.
  • Subcoracoid Space – it is situated beneath the coracoid process and underneath the pectoralis minor tendon.

Types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

The signs and symptoms help while determining its type such as:

Neurological TOS

The main cause is the squeezing of the nerves, which affects the neck and area down the arm. Symptoms include neck pain, trapezius muscle pain etc.

Functional or Postural TOS

Usually, bad or slouched posture for a long span results in changes in the muscles affecting nerves and blood vessels.

Vascular TOS

Vascular TOS is extremely rare but the most serious of them all. The reason behind this is the squeezing of the vein or artery under the collar bone. The pressing results in cold and pale arms or hands.

Nerve compression in the arms or neck area is possible because of a lot of reasons. One of which may be arthritis of the neck.

How Do Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Exercises Help?

These exercises help decrease symptoms, improve postures, and enhance the normal functioning of patients with thoracic outlet syndrome.

Exercises for TOS – Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Here are 3 simple exercises for relieving pain:

Neck Stretch

Fix your eyes towards the front and maintain contact straight ahead; bend the right ear on the right shoulder. Do not look up or down while doing so. If your therapist gives the go-ahead, you can also turn your chin up or down while holding the position for 30 seconds approx.

Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder stretch is an exercise done in three positions for relieving thoracic outlet syndrome patients. Start off with the elbows or arms at low or right by your side. Lean the bodyweight further until you feel your frontal part and chest stretching. Hold the position for 20 or 30 seconds and repeat.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Push your shoulders back and press the blades together. You can increase the number of squeezes with time.

Final thoughts

We recommend thoracic outlet syndrome patients exercise with care and with the assistance of a professional. If arthritis is one of the reasons for pinching issues, contact an affordable rheumatologist in Houston at Rheumatology Care North Houston at 832 532 9779.

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