Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2021

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition in which there is compression of nerves or blood vessels, or both, because of an inadequate passageway through an area known as the thoracic outlet between the base of the neck and the armpit.

Signs and symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome include

Symptoms may vary in severity among affected people. Other associated symptoms can include weakness of the arm and worsening of symptoms when the arm is positioned above the shoulder or extended.

Causes of thoracic outlet syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome can have different causes, including weight lifting, obesity, tumors in the chest, and extra ribs extending from the seventh cervical vertebra at the base of the neck.

Other thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms and signs

  • Arm Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Numbness and Tingling of the Fingers
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Skin Discoloration Due to Poor Circulation in the Affected Extremity
  • Weakness of the Arm and Worsening of Symptoms When the Arm Is Positioned Above the Shoulder or Extended


Pain Management: Surprising Causes of Pain See Slideshow

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.