Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a rare condition that involves pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness, tingling of the fingers, and a weak grip.  The thoracic outlet area is between the rib cage and the collar bone.  The blood vessels in this area become compressed for a number of reasons, normally the patient has overused the area or has injured it.  Some of the symptoms include: pain and tingling in the neck, shoulders, the pinky and ring fingers, and the inner forearm, there are also signs of poor circulation in the hand and forearm which causes a flush color and swelling.  Weakness in the hand and arm is a major part of this condition.  Tests to diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome include: electromyography (EMG), CT, angiogram, MRI, nerve conduction velocity study, and a X-ray.  Tests are also done to rule out carpal tunnel syndrome (see my previous post on this condition).  The main treatment is surgery where they remove the top rib on the side that is affected.  Surgery is normally beneficial in 50 to 80% of patients, and physical therapy is also helpful.  Stay Informed!

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