Narrowing of the thoracic outlet, the enclosed space between the base of the neck and the armpit through which nerves and blood vessels of the arm must pass, is called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), most often associated with a congenital abnormality including an extra rib, or triggered by neck trauma.
TOS affects people of all ages and gender. The condition is common among athletes who participate in sports that require repetitive motions of the arm and shoulder, such as baseball, swimming, volleyball, and other sports.
Treatment for TOS usually includes physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or short courses of steroids to eliminate symptoms such as arm swelling, tingling or numbness in the fingers, or radiating pain in the shoulder, arm or hand. When these treatment options are ineffective, surgery becomes a consideration. If the patient has an extra rib, the physician can remove it to redirect blood vessels around the area, or remove part of the first rib in a minimally-invasive procedure known as a first rib resection. This process will create more room for the blood vessels and nerves, lessening the pain and numb feeling when the pressure is gone and reducing the risk of aneurysms and blood clots in more serious forms of the condition.
Katelyn, a young college soccer play experienced numbness, tingling and blood clots in her arm. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome was diagnosed and treated by a vascular surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas.
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