Though there are multiple forms of thoracic outlet syndrome, treatment methods for all forms are similar. Through a combination of physical therapy, exercises, medications, and surgery, patients suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) have many options when dealing with their condition.
If you are suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, please do not hesitate to call our expert thoracic surgeons today. With years of experience and access to state-of-the-art technologies, the thoracic specialists at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence can help patients overcome the pain associated with thoracic outlet syndrome.Contact Us Now!
Treatment Methods for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
If left untreated, thoracic outlet syndrome can result in permanent arm swelling, blood clots, and even gangrene. That’s why it’s crucial that patients suffering from the disorder contact a specialist as soon as possible. Even though the condition cannot be prevented, it is highly treatable given proper medical care and support. The following treatment methods are useful in relieving pressure from the thoracic outlet.
Though physical therapy is useful treating all forms of thoracic outlet syndrome, the neurogenic form of the condition best responds to physical therapy. During physical therapy, a therapist will teach you how to open the thoracic outlet by stretching and strengthening muscles in the shoulders and neck. In addition to relieving compression within the thoracic outlet, physical therapy is also useful in improving range of motion and posture.
Individuals who are overweight place more stress upon their joints. Often, this excess weight can result in the thoracic outlet coming under pressure. As a relief measure, patients with TOS are encouraged to lose excess weight. Ideally, this weight loss will help alleviate the symptoms associated with thoracic outlet syndrome.
Another relatively simple treatment method for thoracic outlet syndrome is medication. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to decrease the inflammation within the thoracic outlet. Over-the-counter pain medications will help in reducing pain, while muscle relaxants will cause the muscles to relax, mitigating the pain caused by the compressed thoracic outlet.
Patients who suffer from vascular thoracic outlet syndrome have compressed veins and arteries, which sometimes leads to the formation of blood clots. For patients with this specific version of the disorder, doctors can prescribe clot-dissolving medications to dissolve blood clots. To prevent clots from forming in the first place, doctors can prescribe anticoagulants.
If conservative approaches to thoracic outlet syndrome treatments aren’t effective, a thoracic surgeon may recommend a patient undergo surgery. When dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome, the thoracic specialists at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence perform minimally-invasive first rib resection. Using a high-tech camera inserted into the patient, surgeons will remove a small part of a patient’s upper-most rib. The reshaped rib does not place as much pressure on the thoracic outlet, causing a reduction in the symptoms associated with thoracic outlet syndrome.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is thoracic outlet syndrome preventable?
A: Unfortunately, TOS is not totally preventable. Is it, however, easily treated through the methods listed on this page. In addition to the above treatment methods, patients could try performing various shoulder and neck exercises at home. Though they will not “cure’ a person of his or her TOS, these exercises can provide patients with a much-needed sense of relief and alleviation from pain, if just temporarily.
To see a list of exercises you can perform at home, please read about thoracic exercises.
Q: Do all forms of TOS require surgery?
A: For patients suffering from the neurogenic form of thoracic syndrome, only about 10-20% require surgery. Often, physical therapy can take the pressure off the brachial plexus, leading to a reduction in the symptoms of the disorder. However, most patients who have vascular TOS require surgery. This is because the main cause of vascular surgery is the presence of an extra rib in patients. A first rib resection will reshape the rib and reduce compression of the thoracic outlet.
Q: Are there any risks to thoracic outlet surgery?
A: As with all surgeries, there are risks associated with first rib resection. However, the majority of patients experience a reduction in their thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms. If you are unsure about surgery, speak with a thoracic specialist. Only an expert can provide you with accurate information.
Contact a Thoracic Surgeon Today
At the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence, our surgeons are experienced in treating all the various forms of thoracic outlet syndrome. If you or someone you know suffers from TOS, please contact the thoracic surgeons at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence today by calling 888.336.0998.
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