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The Precision Correction Blog

Articles For Our Columbus Chiropractic Patients

Three ways Upper Cervical Chiropractic helps Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) – part 1

Those suffering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) often have to fight a hard battle before they get the help they need. Here are three reasons why TOS patients might consider a consultation with an Upper Cervical Chiropractor in Columbus, OH.

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be a painful and frustrating condition that affects the arms, forearms, hands, and fingers one one side of the body. It’s called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome because the problem is believed to come from the “Thoracic Outlet”, or where the lower neck joins the upper back and rib cage. TOS causes an irritation of nerves and blood vessels going into the arms causing symptoms ranging from very mild to serious.

What are the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Because the irritation of TOS can affect blood vessels and nerves, the symptoms for TOS can be different in different people.

One set of symptoms are neurological, and the other set of TOS symptoms are vascular.

The neurological TOS symptoms include:

  • Ache or pain in the arms and hands
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands
  • A loss of strength in gripping or holding
  • Or, in more extreme cases, muscles of the shoulder, arms, forearms or hands actually wasting away

These are believed to happen when the structures just below the shoulder are compressing nerves.

Vascular TOS symptoms include:

  • Changes of color in the hand (to purple or blue)
  • Arm pain and swelling
  • Weak pulse in the arm with TOS symptoms
  • Black spots under the fingernails from small burst blood vessels

These are believed to happen when structures just below the shoulder are compressing arteries or veins.

Keep in mind that both kinds of symptoms can be experienced at the same time if both nerves and arteries are being affected.

What are medical treatments for TOS?

In many cases, patients suffer with TOS or TOS-like symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed by a medical doctor as having TOS. A majority of people with TOS will be recommended conservative care for their condition, which in medicine, means non-surgical interventions like pharmaceuticals and physical therapy. In cases of TOS that don’t respond, surgery may be recommended, with a variety of surgical approaches depending on where a physician believes the TOS compression is happening.

Anyone suffering with TOS, however, deserves to get a second opinion from an expert in the neck, an Upper Cervical Chiropractor. Upper Cervical Chiropractors do not treat the symptoms of TOS, but their approach to spinal balance can address an underlying stress to the body which can result in TOS.

So, how can Upper Cervical Chiropractic help patients with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Three simple ways.

  1. Upper cervical care helps bring balance back to the joints of the spine, especially in the neck.
  2. Upper cervical chiropractic helps bring balance back to the deep muscles of the neck, in muscles called the scalenes.
  3. Proper chiropractic care of the upper cervical spine will influence the muscle balance and position of the shoulders.

(Read part 2 of this article to read about each of these ways in depth. Or read about one patient’s battle against TOS.)

TOS is ultimately a mechanical breakdown of the body causing nerves and blood vessels of the arm to be under stress. Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a natural, non-invasive approach to putting the body more at ease, and taking mechanical stress off the structures that are breaking down, in a way that is not achieved by drugs or physical therapy.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic is not a treatment for TOS. Rather it is a way to help the body’s natural balance. And a loss of body balance always preceeds TOS.

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 Precision Chiropractic, LLC - 1355 King Ave, Columbus, OH 43212 | Grandview Heights & Upper Arlington