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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the nerves, veins, and arteries in the space between the collarbone and the first rib (the thoracic outlet) become compressed and irritated as they travel to the arm and hand.

This can cause:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the shoulders, chest and neck
  • Pain along the arm
  • Numbness and weakness in the hand and fingers (with or without loss of grip strength and dexterity)

Symptoms associated with TOS can have various causes. This can make it difficult for non-specialists to diagnose it correctly. But at Temple, our doctors have the experience to properly diagnose the condition and recommend a range of advanced treatment options to relieve symptoms.

Types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

There are 3 types of thoracic outlet syndrome:

Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (Most Common Form)

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by compression of the nerves of the brachial plexus (a network of nerves that originate near the neck and shoulders). This is by far the most common form of thoracic outlet syndrome and can be overlooked because of its varied symptoms, mostly pain and weakness of the arm and hand.

Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Venous thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by an obstruction or clotting of the main vein from the arm (subclavian vein). This is most often associated with repetitive activity such as weightlifting, sports, or intense manual labor with repetitive tasks. This can cause severe swelling in the arm.

Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Arterial thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the artery leading to the arm (the subclavian artery) is compressed by an additional rib (cervical rib) or an abnormality of the first rib. This condition is very rare and can cause blood clots in the artery leading to the hand.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat thoracic outlet syndrome.