Back Pain

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Among most back pain diagnostics of late,

thoracic outlet syndrome

seems to be on the rise. The diagnosis of this syndrome is a controversial one as the reason for this syndrome are pinched nerves. But, this syndrome is caused by a structural abnormality which does not usually lead to chronic pinched nerves.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS):

Spinal nerve roots known as the

brachial plexus


carry the information from the spine towards the upper back, shoulder and neck regions. Any impingement of these nerves can lead to a neurogenic TOS. There are two other forms of this syndrome, viz. arterial TOS and venial TOS which are very rare though.

Any injury to the muscles in the upper back could inflame the muscles causing the muscles to compress the brachial plexus nerves.

Also, other back pain reasons like psychosomatic syndromes can lead to



(lack of oxygen supply leading to back pain) thus, depriving the brachial plexus nerve structures of oxygen.

Pain Associated with Neurogenic TOS:

The pain associated with this particular neurogenic syndrome can be anywhere in the regions between the upper back, to the neck and in between the shoulder blades.

  • Sometimes, the pain may be generated specific region in the back.
  • Patients who suffer from TOS are also known to suffer from severe upper back spasms which may force a patient to be bed ridden until the spasms recede.
  • This syndrome can lead to a loss of mobility and function along with stiffness in the upper back, neck and shoulder region.
  • Mostly women, athletes, and people who are known to work desk jobs, people who lack a good posture and people who are into jobs which involve repetitive motions are known to suffer from this syndrome.


Most often, nerve compressions in the upper back are diagnosed as TOS. Unfortunately, as of now, there are no treatment options available for reducing the compression of the brachial plexus.

  • Drugs for managing pain, injection therapy, chiropractic treatment and physical therapy are the defence mechanisms and conservative treatment options available for dealing with the situation.Unless and until the diagnosis says that it is a 100 percent TOS, surgery is not an option.

Thoracic outlet syndrome

can take a while to diagnose and be confirmed.

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