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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (cont.)

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What causes thoracic outlet syndrome?

An inadequate passageway for these nerves and blood vessels as they pass through an area (thoracic outlet) between the base of the neck and the armpit causes thoracic outlet syndrome. Thoracic outlet syndrome can be caused by weight-lifting, obesity, tumors in the chest, and extra ribs extending from the seventh cervical vertebra at the base of the neck.

What are risk factors for thoracic outlet syndrome?

Risk factors include occupations that involve heavy usage of the upper extremities against resistance, including jack-hammer operators and dental hygienists, weight lifters, pregnant women, and obese individuals.

What are symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome?

Symptoms include neck, shoulder, and arm pain, numbness, or impaired circulation and flushed sensations to the extremities (causing discoloration). Often symptoms are reproduced when the arm is positioned above the shoulder or extended. Patients can have a wide spectrum of symptoms from mild and intermittent to severe and constant. Pains can extend to the fingers and hands, causing weakness.

How do physicians diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome?

The diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome is suggested by the symptoms and supported by findings of the doctor during the examination. Certain maneuvers of the arm and neck can produce symptoms and blood vessel "pinching," causing a loss of pulse. Further supportive testing can include electrical tests, such as electromyogram (EMG) and somatosensory evoked responses (although these may not be positive in all patients). Some patients can have angiogram X-ray tests that demonstrate the pinched area of the blood vessel involved.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/23/2014

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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your thoracic outlet syndrome?
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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/thoracic_outlet_syndrome/article.htm

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