Thoracic outlet syndrome

What is it?

Thoracic outlet syndrome is characterized by compression of blood vessels and nerves that run through the thoracic outlet (from the neck to the arm). There are three types: neurological form, venous form, and arterial form. Young people, mostly women, are most often affected, probably because they have predisposing anatomical features. It can be caused by a congenital anatomical defect (cervical rib), improper posture, injury, or any repetitive activity.

Which are the symptoms?

Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome vary depending on whether the brachial plexus or blood vessels are compressed.

  • pain in the neck, shoulder, or hand
  • weak grip
  • numbness and formication in the hand
  • weakness in the arm or neck
  • discoloration of the skin
  • swollen hand
  • weak or absent pulse
  • muscle atrophy

How is it diagnosed?

If the patient has the described symptoms, a more detailed examination is necessary to determine the exact cause of the problem. Diagnosing this syndrome is difficult because the symptoms vary from patient to patient.

Suggested exams

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on whether thoracic outlet syndrome is neurogenic or vascular. Generally, the first approach to treatment is conservative, i.e., physical therapy and symptom control. If conservative treatment does not give the desired results, surgical intervention is necessary to decompress the nerves and vessels.

Where do we treat it?

Within the San Donato Group, you can find Thoracic outlet syndrome specialists at these departments:

Are you interested in receiving the treatment?

Contact us and we will take care of you.