Thoracic outlet syndrome is the name for a group of disorders that can occur in the thoracic outlet. These disorders occur when a bundle of nerves in the space between the collarbone and the first rib become compressed. Often, this compression leads to pain and fatigue in the shoulders and arm, and may sometimes require surgery if the condition is bad enough. Though there are many different ways the thoracic outlet can become compressed, there are a few easy exercises patients can perform to help alleviate any pain they may be experiencing.
At the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence, our thoracic surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating all the conditions affecting the thoracic outlet. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists, please contact us at 888.336.0998 today.Contact Us Now!
Thoracic Outlet Exercises
The scalene stretch is an easy exercise that can be performed either standing or sitting. During a scalene stretch, clasp both hands behind your back, then lower your right shoulder and tilt your head to the left. If done correctly, you should feel a slight stretching sensation. After holding this position for approximately 30 seconds, lower your left shoulder and tilt your head to the left. Repeat this process three times on each side.
The pectoralis stretch can be performed in any doorway. Stand in an open doorway with your hands slightly above your head on the doorframe. Slowly learn forward until you feel a stretching in your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat.
A thoracic extension exercise is extremely useful in relieving pressure from the thoracic outlet. To perform this exercise, sit in a chair and hold your hands behind your head. While holding this position, slightly lean back until you are looking upward toward the ceiling. For the best results, perform this exercise multiple times per day.
A mid-trap exercise requires nothing more than the floor and a pillow. Lie flat on the floor with a pillow beneath your chest. Completely extend your arms to your sides and point your thumbs to the ceiling. While in this position, carefully lift your arms and squeeze your shoulder blades together. After holding for a few seconds, slowly bring your arms back to the ground. Repeat.
For people looking for an extra challenge, try holding small weights in your hands while performing the mid-trap exercise.
Like the scalene stretch, the scrapular squeeze can be performed while standing up or sitting down, making it useful for all types of occasions. Place your arms to your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for a few seconds, then repeat. The subtle nature of this exercise makes it ideal for people who work in an office or who are sitting for long periods of time.
Sit or stand against a wall while holding your elbows and wrists against the wall. Slide your arms upward while simultaneously keeping your wrists and elbows against the wall. If done correctly, you should feel a slight stretching sensation in your shoulders, at the precise area where the thoracic outlet is found. To make the most of this exercise, repeat multiple times daily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are these thoracic exercises a substitute for proper medical care?
A: Though these exercises can help reduce the chances of a thoracic outlet disorder occurring, they are by no means a substitute for proper medical care from a licensed doctor. If you experience frequent pain and numbness in your shoulders and these exercises are not helping, it’s important that you consult a doctor immediately. A thoracic surgeon can accurately diagnosis and treat your condition before it becomes worse.
Q: How often do I need to perform these exercises?
A: Ideally, these exercises should be performed multiple times a day, with each session including multiple sets and repetitions. Thankfully, most of these exercises require no additional items, making them easy to perform in a variety of locations.
Q: What are other simple and effective ways to prevent thoracic outlet syndrome?
A: Maintaining good posture can be an immense help in preventing thoracic outlet syndrome from occurring. Proper posture will reduce the pressure in the thoracic outlet, reducing in less symptoms in your arm and shoulder. So the next time you catch yourself slouching, straighten up! Literally!
Contact a Thoracic Specialist Today
Using these exercises, people can reduce the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome as well as reduce the chances of a thoracic disorder occurring in the first place. However, if you suffer from chronic shoulder pain, it’s critical that you contact a Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence thoracic surgeon as soon as possible. If you could like to schedule a consultation with one of our expert specialists, please contact us today by calling 888.336.0998.
Next, read about thoracic outlet surgery treatment.