Spine Thoracic

I have tingling and pain that shoots from my shoulder to my hand whenever I grip or lift things. My doctor thinks I have thoracic outlet syndrome. Will I need surgery, or are there other ways to treat my problem?

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition where the nerves or arteries that go to the arm and hand get squeezed between soft tissues near the side of the neck. With few exceptions, surgery is a last resort for treating TOS. Most people are able to get a handle on their TOS symptoms through a therapy program. Specialized exercises can improve muscle balance and posture to lessen your TOS symptoms. A physical or occupational therapist usually designs the exercise program.

I am a 33-year-old hairdresser with thoracic outlet syndrome. I've tried medications and exercise, but the pain just keeps getting worse. Is there else anything I can do, short of having surgery?

Work postures, especially holding your arms out or overhead for long periods, can contribute to symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Hairdressers have to use these positions for much of the day. Your work may be constantly aggravating your TOS. A specialist, such as a physical or occupational therapist, could check your work station and watch the way you do your work.

I was told I have scoliosis and snapping scapula. Are the two somehow related?

They can be. Changes in posture can cause changes in the alignment of the rib cage. If the change becomes permanent, as can happen with scoliosis, the shoulder blade may begin to thump or snap as it glides over the rib cage. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if exercises could improve your spine and shoulder blade alignment.

I've had pain and tingling in my left arm for several months. I've been to several doctors, and they've run all kinds of tests. They're not sure, but they think I have thoracic outlet syndrome. Isn't there a test that can show for certain that this is my problem?

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition where the nerves or arteries that go to the arm and hand get squeezed between soft tissues near the side of the neck. It is difficult to diagnose. The process can be frustrating, as you know too well. There is no one test that shows TOS. And TOS symptoms are similar to the symptoms of many other conditions, including a herniated disc in the neck and carpal tunnel syndrome.

My doctor told me that I've got problems with thoracic outlet syndrome because I hunch over at my work bench all day. I assemble small electronic parts. My attempts to stay upright don't last very long. Before I know it, I'm hunched over again. How can I keep from slouching at work?

Raise the height of the work bench slightly. This may make it easier for you to manipulate small items while you keep your back upright. Make sure you have adequate overhead lighting and an adjustable task light. Good lighting means that you won't bend closer to see what you're working on.

I've heard that thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by an extra cervical rib. Why won't my doctor just remove the rib?

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) involves pressure on the arteries or nerves running from the neck to the arm. TOS is rarely caused by an extra cervical rib. Surgery to remove the extra rib is only done when your doctor is absolutely sure it is causing the problem.

What is thoracic outlet syndrome?

Thoarcic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition in which pressure on nerves and arteries from the neck to the arm causes numbness in the arm or hand. TOS is difficult to diagnose. There are at least nine different spots where the nerves or arteries could be pinched, and there are no simple tests that confirm TOS. A doctor considers the medical history, the physical exam, and the results of diagnostic tests in making a diagnosis of TOS.

Bracing the Unbraceable: Boston Brace Shows Positive Results for Large Curves of Scoliosis

The Boston brace has been shown to help people with scoliosis when their spinal curve is less than 30 degrees. But most experts have felt the brace couldn't keep curves over 35 degrees from getting worse. There is agreement that surgery should be held off until the curve reaches 40 degrees, which poses a dilemma when the curve is between 35 and 40 degrees. These curves are too small for surgery and too big to be helped by a brace.

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