5 Exercises to Help Relieve Pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

March 11, 2019

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a term used to describe a group of disorders that occur when there is compression, injury, or irritation of the nerves and/or blood vessels (arteries and veins) in the lower neck and upper chest area.

Thoracic outlet syndrome affects the space between the collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet). Common causes include trauma, repetitive injuries, pregnancy, and anatomical defects, such as having an extra rib.

Symptoms include pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness, weakness, and coldness in the fingers.

Treatment involves physical therapy and pain relief. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to relieve the compression.

Here are some exercises to help relieve pain:

1)    Nerve glides (also known as neural flossing or nerve stretching) are exercises that aim to restore mobilization of our peripheral nerves. When a nerve is injured it won't be able to glide normally through the surrounding sheath which can cause a sharp pain.

2)    Wall angels stretch the pec muscles and can help improve neural mobility.

3)    T’s are aimed to help strengthen the scapular stabilizers in order to decrease repetitive postural stress on nerves

4)    Thoracic extension/flexion can improve posture to decrease stress on thoracic outlet

5)    Scalene stretch to improve neck and neural mobility

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