Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - Treatment

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

What kinds of treatment or therapy have you received for thoracic outlet syndrome?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the white square:

What is the treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome? What are medications for thoracic outlet syndrome? Is surgery necessary for TOS?

Treatment of the thoracic outlet syndrome can usually be successful with conservative measures. Treatments include a variety of exercises that effectively stretch open the tissues of the thoracic outlet. These are done with and without weights in the hands to pull the outlet into a "relaxed" open position. Physical therapists are specially trained in the instruction of exercises for thoracic outlet syndrome, and their evaluation of the patient can be helpful. Shoulder-shrug exercises and others can be done at home or at work to relax the muscles around the thoracic outlet.

Patients should avoid prolonged positions with their arms held out or overhead. For example, it is best to avoid sleeping with the arm extended up behind the head. It is also helpful to have rest periods at work to minimize fatigue. Weight reduction can be helpful for obese patients. Patients should avoid sleeping on their stomach with their arms above the head. They should also not repetitively lift heavy objects.

A health-care professional might prescribe medications such as an anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen [Advil]) or muscle relaxants to help improve the symptoms.

Some patients with severe, resistant symptoms can require surgical operations to open the thoracic outlet. These procedures include interruption of the scalene muscle (scalenotomy) and removal (resection) of the first rib in order to spare injury to the affected nerve and blood vessels from ongoing compression. Thoracic outlet syndrome that affects the vascular system (veins and arteries) is more likely to require surgery to resolve the symptoms.

Return to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Tess, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 25

I have thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) and am in my last week of physical therapy. I do my at-home therapy faithfully. My therapist stated I should have been showing some signs of improvement but I actually feel I'm getting worse. I'm a dental hygienist and I know my job is the cause, with the constant repetition and my arms being held out away from my body all day long. By the middle of each work day I have so much pain and heaviness. I don't want to move it. I just want to keep it hugged to my side. Unfortunately, my patients still need to be seen so I continue through the pain. My orthopedic doctor mentioned possible removal of a rib but we didn't go into great detail about that option yet. Next week is that appointment. I just know I can't keep working like this. If there are more people that had success with rib removal surgery I'd like to hear about it.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: suprised, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 31

I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) just recently. I have extreme pain in my left arm to the point where driving is difficult as well as writing, and so on. I also have neck pain on left side. This showed up 6 months after an accident I have went through physiotherapy, had shots, drugs, and massages. I was diagnosed by a vascular surgeon, after many doctors thought I was nuts or told me to meditate. I am now scheduled for surgery in a week. I am a little skeptical, a lot optimistic but either way I don't see a better choice. I urge those who believe they have TOS to be your own advocate and researcher. Many doctors mocked me when I said I thought that I had TOS.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!