Thoracic outlet syndrome: Biomechanical and exercise considerations
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) describes a group of disorders that are due to a dynamic compression of blood vessels or nerves, between the clavicle and first rib or cervical vertebral nerve roots. Individuals with TOS typically experience upper limb pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that is exacerbated by shoulder or neck movement. The causes of TOS vary, and can include abrupt movements, hypertrophy of the neck musculature, and anatomical variations in which the brachial plexus roots pass through this musculature, edema, pregnancy, repeated overhead motions, the blockage of an artery or vein, or abnormal posture. To understand the complexity of this condition, an analysis of shoulder anatomy and mechanics are needed to help describe limitations and the subsequent pathophysiology of TOS. Several treatment options are available, including surgery, medications, and exercise. A comprehensive study of shoulder anatomy and biomechanics, and knowledge of the benefits of exercise, may help clinicians and healthcare practitioners determine the most appropriate treatment plan for an individual with TOS.