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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

griffggriff Posts: 488
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I know this topic has been posted before but there just wasn't a lot of information on it.

After a visit to my surgeon on Thursday he seems to think that I may have TOS and has referred me to a Vascular surgeon that he says is very good at diagnosing it. He did some explaining but I'm still very confused, even after doing some internet research.

Considering the severity of my accident and the subsequent surgeries some of the symptoms make sense. However, I'm still not convinced that my cervical spine is as "fixed" as it needs to be and I'm worried that yet another diagnosis will confuse the issues and perhaps downplay the cervical problems. He's also orded MRI's of my entire spine, cervical, thoracic and lumbar, because he thinks that I may have been more injured than just my cervical spine. Great. Am I just being silly?

I'd like to hear anyone's experience with this and opinions are always welcome. I had hoped that after two surgeries this year that I'd be much farther along than I am but here I sit, still unable to work or play. I guess I'm just feeling dissapointed......again.

Thanks in advance,



  • Sorry to hear you are in such a pickle. The great thing is that the doc is aggressively working to figure out what all is wrong. Better now then 2 or 3 or more years down the road, when damage is permanent.

    Having multiple surgeries in a years time is very difficult and frustrating. It's hard to keep from wondering if there will ever be an end to it all. If you believe in yourself and in your surgeon though, it is possible to make it through and do it with dignity.

    Staying focused on the end result and your desire to get back into working and doing things you love to do is so very very important. I just flat out refused to become an old woman in my 40's. It worked and I made it through.

    Lot's of docs seem to throw out TOS when it comes to confusing or complex cervical cases. Since there's several different types of TOS, that can really be frustrating. If he is sending you to a vascular surgeon, then he feels it's possibly vascular TOS. The cool part with TOS, is that PT can take care of it a lot of times. Nerve compression due to vascular or muscular entrapment can be eased, by stretching and building certain muscles. This was the case for me and it saved me from having another surgery. Years later when an MRI of each brachial plexus was done, it showed a huge difference in the area and no signs of TOS. All I did was PT for it. I had to be diligent and do this for many years (home exercises and stretches), but heck it paid off.

    Your doc is working hard to help, that's priceless. You have a very strong personality and with the combination, you should do great.

  • Hey Griff,
    Im in the same position where im not sure what TOS entails. My neuro said i might have a mild case of TOS but i dont know much about it. I have been having a lot of upper back/neck stiffness and pain, shoulder and arm pit pain and even sometimes pains in my arms and hands. It can go anywhere from a dull achey pain to a sharp pain and sometimes especially when i wake up in the morning or at work (where i stand up and all shift and look down at a computer for 8 hours and have been doing so for 3 years now 40 hrs a week) I feel difficulty in moving my arms. It seems to lessen when im off of work for a couple of days or on vacation, or if i try look upward when symptoms are bothering me, however it is really annoying. I also have a herniated disc in my lower back thats messing some things up and i went to Chiro to help fix that with minimal results, but when i quit going is when i noticed these other symptoms. My Doc seems to think its a combination of the job, my lower back problems, added stress, and the failed chiro treatment plus some weight gain that might have caused it, but he didnt seem too concerned and told me to try different stretching exercises and weight loss and come back to him if it got worse. Does this sound like a case of TOS and if so how serious is this stuff because like i said my doc didnt seem too concerned. Thanks for your help!

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  • My doc isn't sending me to a vascular surgeon because he thinks it's a vascular problem, he just knows that this doc is a wiz at knowing if it's TOS or not. I don't have the vascular symptoms (cold or swollen hand, discoloration etc.). I do have the nerve problems and they persist for hours sometimes.

    I was doing PT and ended up in the ER because of the increase pain it caused. I haven't been the same since. My whole cervical frame and muscular development are so different now and I think that it's thrown my whole spine for a loop. I still have the myelopothy and the muscle atrophy and it's permanent at this point. I did read that only 10% of physical therapists are trained in TOS release..I don't think I'm going to find one in rural Missouri LOL!

    I just need answers...but solutions would be the icing on the cake!

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