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Types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Disorders and Their Symptoms - Spine Center of Texas
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Types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Disorders and Their Symptoms

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or TOS is mainly caused when the nerves or blood vessels (veins and arteries) in the tight passage of the thoracic outlet are compressed, irritated, or injured. This condition also occurs when there is an extra cervical rib or an old collarbone fracture.

There are three major types of thoracic outlet syndrome:

Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This is easily the most common of the three types of thoracic outlet syndrome. This condition mainly occurs when the brachial plexus is compressed. The brachial plexus is a system of nerves originating from the spinal cord. These nerves control the movement (motor) of muscle and sensation (sensory) in the hands, arms, and shoulders.

Symptoms of Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

  • Numbness and weakness in the hands
  • The hand muscles reduce in size
  • Prickling and tingling
  • The arms, chest and neck area might experience weakness and numbness

Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:

Both of the above thoracic outlet syndromes fall under vascular thoracic outlet syndrome. This kind of thoracic outlet syndrome happens when a single or more of the arteries (arterial thoracic outlet syndrome) or veins (venous thoracic outlet syndrome) under the clavicle (collarbone) get compressed.

Symptoms of Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This occurs when the main veins in the lower back and upper chest are damaged. The symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the fingers, hands, and arms
  • Weakness and heaviness of the arms and neck
  • The front (anterior) veins on the chest wall might seem swollen

Symptoms of Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This condition is not as prevalent as the others, but it is the most severe. The signs include:

  • Icy sensitivity in the fingers and hands
  • Numbness
  • Pain and soreness in the fingers
  • Poor circulation of blood in the fingers, hands, and arms

If you have any of the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome listed above, contact Spine Center of Texas in San Antonio, Seguin, or New Braunfels for a physical evaluation.