Pain or Numbness In Your Arm? Maybe It's Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Not every complaint in the arm is a disc or carpal tunnel
When patients come into our clinic with pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness into an arm, hand, or fingers, they have usually already visited 'Dr. Google' and determined they must have carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes they're right. Lots of times, they aren't right at all.
There's a chance it might be a little known condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Some common symptoms of TOS are when your fingers or hands fall asleep while driving or typing, fixing your hair, or doing certain moves at the gym.
Some of the most common reasons for issues into arms, hands, and fingers are:
- A disc issue originating in the neck
- Tennis elbow
- and, as we mentioned, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
TOS, however is less common and not on as many providers' radars.
What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)?
Everything that makes your arm, hands, and fingers work comes from your neck. Everything in your neck gets to your arms, hands, and fingers through three tight spots or bottle necks. They are:
- The Scalene muscles on each side of the neck
- The costoclavicular space just under your collar bone
- Pec Minor muscle right under your collar bone toward your shoulder
When these spots get even tighter for a variety of reasons, it can put pressure on important nerves and/or blood vessels running through the area. Roughly 90% of TOS cases are compression of the nerves rather than vein or artery.
Interestingly, another common contributing factor to TOS is the presence of a cervical rib. Only 1 in about 500 patients have this genetic anomaly. Some folks with significant TOS symptoms will opt for surgery in these cases.
How Do We Treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?
In our Amarillo, TX medical, chiropractic, and rehabilitation clinic, we do a thorough exam first. There is not one single golden orthopedic test that can identify TOS reliably but a cluster of 2 or more gives us a bout a 90% chance at getting to the correct diagnosis. That's excellent odds in the medical world!
Once we are confident in the diagnosis, we then begin a schedule of conservative care for 2-4 weeks that includes manual therapy, massage, and evidence-based, research-proven exercises that are simple but powerful in helping our patients get their lives back to normal.
The excellent news is it is very common for our patients to resolve and get to feeling better relatively quickly without surgery or pills.
If you're having any issues into your arms, hands, or fingers, call us at 806-355-3000 and let us help you figure out what it is and then let's work together to get rid of it once and for all.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (https://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com.
Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.
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