What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome(TOS) is a group of disorders that occur when the nerves or blood vessels in the neck or shoulder regions are compressed. This will result in numbness, weakness, or even tingling in the arm, shoulder or neck.


Thoracic Outlet Syndrome symptoms can vary, depending on which of the structures are compressed. When nerves are compressed, it results in Neurological Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. When veins or arteries are compressed it results in Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of Neurological Thoracic Outlet Syndrome include:

  • Wasting in the fleshy base of your thumb (Gilliatt-Sumner hand)
  • Numbness or tingling in your arm or fingers
  • Pain or aches in your neck, shoulder or hand
  • Weakening grip

Signs and symptoms of Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome include:

  • Discoloration of your hand (bluish color)
  • Arm pain and swelling
  • Blood clot in veins or arteries in the upper area of your body
  • Lack of color (pallor) in one or more of your fingers or your entire hand
  • Weak or no pulse in the affected arm
  • Cold fingers, hands or arms
  • Arm fatigue after activity
  • Weakness of arm or neck
  • Throbbing lump near your collarbone


Any compression to the nerves or blood vessels in the Thoracic Outlet can cause Thoracic outlet syndrome(TOS). The typical causes of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome include:

  • Anatomical defects
  • Poor posture
  • Trauma
  • Repetitive injury
  • Pressure on your joints due to obesity
  • Pregnancy


Treatments for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome involves medications, Physical Therapy, and surgery. Our specialists at Optimum Rehab Physical Therapy offices in New York City are well trained in Physical Therapy and will guide you to a regular fitness and exercise regime that would minimize the problems of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.


The prevention of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome(TOS) focuses on minimizing compression and trauma to the Thoracic Outlet. This can be done by following some method like:

  • Maintaining good posture

  • Avoid lifting heavy weights

  • Perform exercises to keep your shoulder muscles strong.

  • Avoid repetitive jobs