WHAT IS MEANT BY THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME A thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers. The thoracic surgery doctors in Washington DC are recognized leaders in the field who diagnose and treat patients with diseases of the lungs, esophagus and diaphragm. As a patient, they’ll provide you with expert care in all aspects of general thoracic surgery, including minimally invasive and conventional open surgical procedures. CAUSE – The underlying causes of thoracic outlet syndrome include repetitive injuries from job – or sports-related activities, physical trauma from a car accident, certain anatomical defects such as having an extra rib, and pregnancy. Often the situation occurs where the doctors are not able to actually determine the exact cause of thoracic outlet syndrome in the patient. TREATMENT – Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves physical therapy and pain relief measures. Many people show signs of improvement with these approaches or improve completely. However, in some cases, the doctors might end up recommending a surgery. SYMPTOMS OF THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME Do you experience chronic pain in the shoulders and arms? If so, it’s possible that you may suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome. With proper treatment, the syndrome can be highly-treated, but because the condition can vary from patient to patient, accurately diagnosing the different types of TOS becomes fairly difficult on the part of the surgeon.
Thoracic outlet syndrome has been categorized into three types, namely vascular, neurogenic, and arterial TOS. Depending on which form of the condition you are suffering from, you could experience various symptoms, including pain, fatigue, and more. Though there are many symptoms associated with TOS, the following are the most identifiable and common. WASTING IN THE THUMB –When the patient suffers from neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, often they experience wasting in the fleshy base of the thumb. In literal terms, this problem is known as Gilliatt-Sumner hand. The main reason behind the occurrence of this problem is that the muscles around the base of the thumb begin to atrophy. The problem of atrophy occurs because blood flow gets restricted to the hand due to compression within the thoracic outlet. NUMBNESS IN THE HANDS AND FINGERS –Similar to Gillatt-Sumner hand, the patient suffering from TOS can also experience numbness in hands and fingers because of reduced blood flow to the extremities. Though not as severe as Gillatt-Sumner hand, numbness in the fingers can cause difficulty in handling the things with grip, and even result in fatigue in the hand and arm. Most often, this numbness occurs in the fourth and fifth fingers of the hand and can be identified by a tingling, needle-like sensation in the fingers. DISCOLORATION OF THE ARMS N HANDS –When the arteries and veins of the shoulder get compressed, less blood reaches the arms and hand. As mentioned above, this can result in numbness in the extremities. Other times, however, this lack of blood flow can cause discoloration to occur in the affected arm, as well as causing the hand to become cold and pale. This poor circulation can also result in a weakened or even absent pulse in the arm. EXTREME PAIN IN SHOULDER AND NECK –Some of the offbeat and common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome is the acute pain in the shoulder and neck. This pain is both sharp and burning, and may even extend down the shoulder to the arms and hands themselves. If you suffer from one or more of the above symptoms, it’s likely that you may be suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome. Renowned thoracic surgery doctors in Washington DC are highly experienced in treating this condition. Schedule an appointment today and get your health checkup done!!