Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is caused by a compression of the nerves, arteries, or veins just below the neck (typically between the muscles of the neck and shoulder or between the first rib and collarbone). TOS may be triggered by a repetitive stress injury, an extra rib, scar tissue, traumatic injury, or certain genetic defects. The surgeons of White Plains Hospital work with physical therapists and other doctors to provide patients with multifaceted care to relieve the compression of TOS.
TOS may cause burning, tingling, and numbness along the arm, hand, and fingers. A compressed nerve may also cause weakness in the hand. If a vein is compressed, the hand might be sensitive to cold, or turn pale or bluish. The affected arm might also swell and tire easily.
TOS is diagnosed through physical examination and a series of maneuvers the doctor may ask the patient to perform to reproduce TOS symptoms. Other tests may include x-rays, MRI, electromyography (an assessment of muscle and nerve function), and a nerve conduction study (to evaluate the speed of impulses traveling through a nerve).
Many patients with TOS are treated with physical therapy to relieve the compression, as well as anti-inflammatory medications and relaxation techniques. Some patients require surgery for relief of symptoms. The surgeons of White Plains Hospital offer a procedure to remove the first rib as a means of relieving compression of affected nerves or blood vessels.