Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome- Thoracic outlet syndrome actually happens because of a few disorders grouped together that appear when your nerves or veins and arteries that are in the area between the collarbone and the first rib are being pressed. This can result with feelings of pain in the shoulders and neck as well as numbness that is felt in the fingers.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is often caused by sport injuries, car accidents, pregnancy, multiple injuries on the same area and so on but doctors can't always pinpoint the reason of the thoracic outlet syndrome.
TYPES AND SYMPTOMS
In order to determine if you have thoracic outlet syndrome, first you need to know that there are three types which are:
Neurological Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – the one that occurs most often in people and it happens because of constant pressure on the brachial plexus which is a web of nerves that originate in the spinal cord and are in charge of the movements and feelings in your shoulders, arms and hands.
Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – the one that occurs when the blood vessels (veins or arteries) are under constant pressure.
Nonspecific Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – doctors are in constant dispute over this type of thoracic outlet syndrome since some are sure that it doesn't exist and others argue that it's very common. People that suffer from this type, reported having chronic pain that only gets much worse when they try to be active. The reason behind what's causing the pain of this type can't be pinpointed yet.
Depending on the type of thoracic outlet syndrome the symptoms would be different.
- The symptoms for the first type consist of muscle wasting in the base of the thumb, weakened grip, numbing or tingling sensation in the arm and fingers and pain in the shoulder, neck and/or hand.
- The symptoms for the second type consist of pain in the arm and occasional swelling because of the blood clots that are being formed, discoloration of the hand, abscense of color in the fingers, weak puls in the arm, numbness in the fingers, arm fatigue when trying to move it around, cold fingers and hand.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Diagnosis
The most important thing when dealing with this syndrome is discovering it as early as possible because the earlier you start the treatment the better chances you have for it to work faster. The treatments available are different for each type of the syndrome.
The ultimate target with the treatments isn't to cure, but to treat the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome and reduce them significantly. Make sure that you consult with your doctor about the right course of treatment for you and be sure to ask about the benefits, side effects and risks of the treatment that the doctor will propose.
Neurogenic Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome
The first thing a doctor will suggest for this type of the syndrome is physical therapy. By undergoing physical therapy you're able to increase the range of movements in your neck and shoulders while simultaneously strengthening your muscles and improving your overall posture.
The majority of patients that commit to physical therapy are feeling better after a few weeks.
The second treatment a doctor will suggest are medications that will consist mainly of painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen. Sometimes doctors also prescribe medication that relaxes the muscles which will reduce the pain as well.
The third option is undergoing a surgery and this one is the last resort and only suggested after the previous treatments didn't do anything to reduced the symptoms and the patient is still in a lot of pain.
Venous Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome
When you're suffering from this type of thoracic outlet syndrome there is a risk of forming blood clots in your veins which is very dangerous so the first treatment that a doctor would prescribe would be thrombolytic medications that will help with dissolving the blood clots that were formed in your veins.
This medication is very strong and it's always good to closely monitor the patient when giving this medication so it usually happens in the hospital where the patient can be checked up on frequently.
It's usually inserted in the body via injection or by a catheter which is a long tube that needs to navigated through the vein to get to the place where the blood clot has formed and deliver the drug which will be able to break the clot in a few hours or a few days.
In some extreme cases the area where the clot was formed will have to be treated with angioplasty in order to prevent another clot from forming.
The second type of medications that are prescribed are called anticoagulant medications and those are very strong as well so they also should be take cautiously. They have the ability to thin the blood and prevent it from forming clots.
The third would be to undergo surgery which usually follows after the medications didn’t work well enough but it’s a last resort even though it’s not a complex procedure.
Arterial Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
This is the most dangerous form and people that suffer from this type often need to undergo surgery as fast as possible. The surgery might involve removing of one rib in order to make space so the arteries aren’t so much under pressure and can function properly or it can be a reparation of the arterial tissue in case it was damaged.
As for the medication that could be prescribed before undergoing the surgery, it’s called thrombolytic medication and it’s often prescribed to the patients when they are under surveillance in the hospital. It can be given directly via injection or using a catheter that is guided through the artery till it reaches the clot at which point the drug is released in order to deal with the clot in a few hours or days.
Surgery is the last resort symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome and it’s most common in patients that suffer from venous or arterial type. It’s very efficient since 90-95% of patients are showing no symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome after undergoing a surgery so if you’re suffering from a venous or an arterial thoracic outlet syndrome this is the right course of treatment for you.
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