Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Blog, / By Admin

Thoracic outlet syndrome is not a single condition. It is actually a collection of disorders that occurs when a compression to a group of nerves or blood vessels happen in the area called the thoracic outlet. The thoracic outlet is a space between your neck and upper chest where the collection of nerves and vessels are found.

Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

As mentioned, thoracic outlet syndrome is not a single condition. As such, its symptoms tend to vary depending on what is being compressed. 

Neurogenic compression (nerve):

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased size of hand muscles

Venous Compression:

  • Swelling of the arms, hands, and fingers
  • Some weakness in arms and neck
  •  Some swelling around the neck

Arterial Compression:

  • Cold sensitivity in hands and fingers
  • Pain and sores in the fingers
  • Poor blood circulation in the hands and fingers


In general, thoracic outlet syndrome is a result of a compression of the structures in the thoracic outlet. However, the exact root cause of this can vary:

  • Poor posture
  • Previous fracture in the collar bone
  • Extra 1st rib (congenital)
  • Repetitive overhead movement
  • Sleep disorder
  • Injury to the neck
  • Weightlifting


Physiotherapy is the most common treatment that is prescribed for thoracic outlet syndrome. We aim to increase the range of motion of your neck and shoulder and improve your posture. This will help in opening up the space at the thoracic outlet and reduce the compression. Contact us to find out more.

Medications are also often prescribed by doctors to help relax the muscles and relief pain. Depending on the type of compression, some anticoagulants and trombolytic medication can also be prescribed.  As a last resort, surgery may be warranted to relief the compression if the condition progresses despite optimal physiotherapy.

Don’t hesitate to get yourself an assessment by contacting us because thoracic outlet syndrome is one of those conditions that has better outcome the earlier you get it diagnosed. Below is an exercise to stretch your back to relief the tension in your upper back. Check out our YouTube Channel for more exercises.