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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

"Those darn tingling fingers." If you suffer from numbness and tingling in your hands it may be the result of a condition known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

How do you get it?

There are several causes of thoracic outlet syndrome however most are due to poor posture, muscle imbalance, improper training methods or occupational stress.

There are certain occupations that have a greater number of employees with thoracic outlet syndrome. These include cash register operators, typists, packers and assembly line workers, due to the awkward work postures and amount of continuous muscle tension. Other signs of thoracic outlet syndrome include coldness, progressive weakness, early fatigability, and loss of coordination in the hands. There may be additional symptoms such as swelling, heaviness, fatigue and muscle cramping.

Imagine a bundle of nerves and blood vessels that travels down from your neck to supply your arms. When this bundle is narrowed or compressed the common result is numbness and tingling in your fourth and fifth fingers or entire hand. (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome more commonly affects the thumb, 2nd and 3rd fingers)

An easy to understand analogy is a common garden hose. If the hose is free from bends or kinks then the water flows freely, however, if there is a kink or bend in the hose then the flow becomes impeded, the same is true of the nervous system.

How is it treated?

Proper treatment of thoracic outlet requires an accurate understanding of the postural factors involved. Most recent treatment programs consider evaluation of joint mobility and muscular imbalance.

Once diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome is made by a Doctor of Chiropractic, a specific treatment program is designed for the patient.

More specifically, chiropractic management will focus on joint mobility in the cervical (neck) and thoracic (upper back) regions of the spine. Frequently, patients with thoracic outlet will have joint tightness in these areas which is treated with spinal manipulative therapy, stretching and rehabilitation in the office.

Keep in mind; there are other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. In either case, if you are currently suffering from similar symptoms, be sure to consult your chiropractor.

Get back on track.