Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
and how massage can help!

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a compression of the thoracic outlet, a neurovascular bundle located between the anterior scalene and middle scalene which is between the base of neck and the armpit.

This nerve entrapment results in head, neck, arm and shoulder pain, inability to grip and poor circulation.

Causes might include a protrusion of a disc that presses on a nerve, fibrosis, whiplash, bone spurs or postural changes during pregnancy.

Any activity that may cause enlargement (weight lifting or weight gain) or movement(exercise or injuries) of the muscles in this area can also be the cause of this disorder. 

To diagnose this problem, your doctor may have you to move your neck and shoulders in specific directions, which may result in a nerve entrapment or pinching sensation. He/She may ask you to lift your hands above your head and open and close them for a few minutes. If you feel pain, numbness, or heaviness, you may have this disorder.

Treatment includes specialized exercise routines, massage therapy techniques, possible physical therapy, and in some severe cases, surgery. Patients are also advised to avoid being in prolonged positions with the shoulders and arms.

Some techniques of massage can help by relaxing the area and increasing circulation. Trigger Point Therapy may be used to help release affected muscles or muscles associated with the Thoracic Outlet. This can be painful.

The therapist will probably spend much of the session on the muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms and upper back. One of the most important massage therapy benefits for Thoracic Outlet is the relaxation of the muscles of these areas.

Some of the pressure may be deep tissue massage in order to encourage release of the muscles and provide pain relief.

Around the neck, the therapist will work underneath the sterocleidomastoid muscle (muscle that controls the movement of the jaw) and around the scalenes (a group of three pairs of muscles in the lateral neck) to help encourage relaxation of muscle tension in the area.

Pectoralis minor muscle (an upper chest muscle) should also be massaged as well as the muscles of the upper arm.

This newly released DVD, IAOM Cervico & Thoracic Outlet DVD teaches about specific techniques of massage that can be used to treat this syndrome, as well as many other pain syndromes and medical conditions. Includes information about risk factors, other alternative treatments, and specific orthopedic massage therapy benefits.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be a painful medical issue with painful medical procedures, but certain techniques of massage may help relieve the pain, reduce the inflammation, and encourage speedy healing.

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