Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and the first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers. 

Yet, surprisingly, chiropractic care can play a key role in the management and care of this condition. So, in this article, we explore what you should know about chiropractic care for thoracic outlet syndrome and how it can help alleviate your symptoms.

What Causes Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

TOS can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Anatomical defects, such as having an extra rib or a tight fibrous band
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive overhead arm movements
  • Trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury

Symptoms of TOS may include pain, numbness, or tingling in the neck, shoulder, arm, or hand; weakness in the affected arm or hand; and a feeling of coldness or swelling in the arm or hand. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may worsen with certain activities or positions.

Chiropractic Care & Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Chiropractors offer a holistic way to approach managing TOS symptoms. With the use a variety of techniques, your Parker chiropractor can help alleviate pressure on the compressed nerves and blood vessels, reduce pain, and improve function. This is achieved through:

  • Adjustments: Chiropractors perform gentle manipulations to the neck, shoulder, and upper back to improve alignment, reduce pressure on the thoracic outlet, and alleviate pain.
  • Soft Tissue Therapy: Techniques such as massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release can help relax tense muscles, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation in the affected area.
  • Ergonomic Advice: Chiropractors can provide guidance on proper ergonomics at work and home to reduce strain on the neck and shoulders and prevent further aggravation of TOS symptoms.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Your chiropractor may suggest lifestyle changes, such as maintaining good posture, taking frequent breaks from repetitive tasks, and using proper body mechanics to minimize stress on the thoracic outlet.

So, what should you expect at your initial consult? How can you come mentally prepared for your first visit?

What to Expect During Chiropractic Treatment

During your initial consultation, your chiropractor will perform a thorough examination, including a review of your medical history, physical exam, and possibly diagnostic tests such as X-rays or nerve conduction studies. Based on the findings, your chiropractor will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Chiropractic treatment for TOS typically involves a series of sessions. Yet, the frequency and duration usually depend on the severity of the condition and the patient’s response to treatment. Most people experience a gradual improvement in their symptoms over the course of several weeks or months.

It’s important to note that while chiropractic care can be effective for managing TOS, it may not be suitable for everyone. In some cases, such as when a structural abnormality causes the compression, surgery may be necessary. Your chiropractor will work with you and your healthcare team to determine the best course of treatment for your individual case.

Have you been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome? Curious about chiropractic care and how it can help? The Awaken Chiropractic team is ready to guide you toward pain relief. Contact us today to book your initial consultation.

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