Nerve sensitivity and pain throughout the arm and hand accompanied by possible shoulder or neck pain often leads to a variety of diagnoses from different healthcare professionals. In this blog we will look at the diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Since a true Thoracic Outlet Syndrome case is not especially common, similar symptoms and nerve compression throughout the shoulder and neck are more likely seen. For the most part when nerve related pain and numbness that originates in the shoulder is found it typically occurs due to posture, mechanics, and/or muscle related tightness. Symptoms will typically occur gradually over time until the issue becomes chronic and requires a longer recovery.
In the case of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a bundle of nerves and/or blood vessels become pinched. This bundle runs from the base of the neck between the first rib and the clavicle to the chest and into the armpit. These nerves supply the arm and the outlet they exit into the arm is referred to as the thoracic outlet. Many factors may contribute to this compression such as muscle tightness or enlargement from lifting, shoulder injuries that can throw off the mechanics of the shoulder, weight gain, or repetitively poor postural position. Those that rely on the upper extremity for a large workload throughout the day are more at risk. Using vibratory tools, desk jobs with poor ergonomic setup, and overhead or outstretched work put a person at higher risk. In any case the condition is painful and debilitating for the person. The good thing is that most of the time therapy can help to correct the issue.
When dealing with this type of nerve pain and numbness that is global and hard to localize, it is important to seek out a therapist that can properly pinpoint the cause and treat the condition at the source. Getting a referral to therapy for your symptoms is just the first step. Many general therapists will try to alleviate the pain by treating the symptoms. This may help pain temporarily, but it will most likely not get rid of your problems for good. A properly trained therapist that can distinguish which nerves are involved and assess the entire upper part of your body to determine the root cause of the nerve compression will help to get rid of the problem.
At Alexandria Rehabilitation our therapist deals specifically with the upper portion of the body and is an expert with nerve related pain cases. Patients have the choice of where and who they would like to complete their therapy. If you are dealing with similar issues to the ones mentioned above, ask your healthcare provider for a therapy referral and/or stop in to make an appointment.
Trust Alexandria Rehabilitation with all your routine or complex therapy needs.
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