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Pain, Tingling, and Weakness: What to Do About Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a medical condition that causes pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arm and hand. In most cases, TOS results after an injury to the neck that creates scar tissue in the muscles.

This extra tissue puts added pressure on the nerves, making it difficult to engage in activities that involve the shoulder or overhead movements. The condition can also be the result of poor posture, the presence of a tumor or cyst, or congenital anatomical defects. 

At Anthony Echo, MD, we understand the frustration neurogenic thoracic syndrome brings, keeping you from engaging without pain and discomfort in your daily activities. At our two offices in Houston, Texas, board-certified surgeon Dr. Anthony Echo helps patients suffering from the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome by providing his expert diagnosis and specialized treatments.  

Understanding thoracic outlet syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome isn’t one condition but rather a group of disorders caused by compressed nerves or blood vessels in the area between your first rib and collarbone. This area of the body is called the thoracic outlet.

Most people who develop thoracic outlet syndrome (over 95%) have neurogenic TOS in which the nerves of the brachial complex, the group of nerves that provide movement and feeling to your arm and hand, are compressed. 

Far fewer people develop venous TOS, which is caused when the major veins in your upper chest and lower neck are damaged, or arterial TOS, caused by abnormalities in the bones of your lower neck and upper chest.

Dr. Echo treats neurogenic TOS, but if he determines your symptoms are caused by venous or arterial TOS, he refers you to a specialist who treats the appropriate form of the condition.  

Treatments for neurogenic TOS

Conservative treatment methods are often the first line of defense against thoracic outlet syndrome, such as medication to reduce pain and inflammation, medications to dissolve and/or prevent blood clots, physical therapy to strengthen and stretch your shoulder muscles, Botox injections to relax your neck muscles, and reaching a healthy weight if you’re overweight. 

Unfortunately, many patients do not find lasting relief with these conservative modalities. In this case, surgery may be required. Dr. Echo’s training in peripheral nerve surgery and microsurgery enables him to perform highly specialized surgery that addresses the underlying cause of thoracic outlet syndrome, alleviating your pain and discomfort. 

Surgical treatment works to decompress the nerves affected by your condition by removing or releasing the structure causing the compression. It may include dividing the muscles around the thoracic outlet and/or removing a section of your first rib.  

Don’t struggle with the pain, tingling, and weakness from thoracic outlet syndrome! Contact the team Anthony Echo, MD, for expert diagnosis and treatment or request an appointment online today.

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