Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
In this Article
- Thoracic outlet syndrome facts
- What is thoracic outlet syndrome?
- What causes thoracic outlet syndrome?
- What are thoracic outlet syndrome risk factors?
- What are thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms and signs?
- What tests do physicians use to diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome?
- What is the treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome? What are medications for thoracic outlet syndrome? Is surgery necessary for TOS?
- What are home remedies for thoracic outlet syndrome?
- What types of doctors treat thoracic outlet syndrome?
- What is the prognosis for thoracic outlet syndrome?
- Is it possible to prevent thoracic outlet syndrome?
What is the treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome? What are medications for thoracic outlet syndrome? Is surgery necessary for TOS?
Treatment of the thoracic outlet syndrome can usually be successful with conservative measures. Treatments include a variety of exercises that effectively stretch open the tissues of the thoracic outlet. These are done with and without weights in the hands to pull the outlet into a "relaxed" open position. Physical therapists are specially trained in the instruction of exercises for thoracic outlet syndrome, and their evaluation of the patient can be helpful. Shoulder-shrug exercises and others can be done at home or at work to relax the muscles around the thoracic outlet.
A health-care professional might prescribe medications to help improve the symptoms, such as anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen [Advil], naproxen [Aleve]) and muscle relaxants.
Some patients with severe, resistant symptoms can require surgery to open the thoracic outlet. These procedures include interruption of the scalene muscle (scalenotomy) and removal (resection) of the first rib in order to spare injury to the affected nerve and blood vessels from ongoing compression. Thoracic outlet syndrome that affects the vascular system (veins and arteries) is more likely to require surgery to resolve the symptoms.
What are home remedies for thoracic outlet syndrome?
Patients should avoid prolonged positions with their arms held out or overhead. For example, it is best to avoid sleeping with the arm extended up behind the head. It is also helpful to have rest periods at work to minimize fatigue. Weight reduction can be helpful for obese patients. Patients should avoid sleeping on their stomach with their arms above the head. They should also not repetitively lift heavy objects.
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