Why Do I Have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?


Pinpointing the cause of the condition


When diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a number of varying symptoms and side effects are able to form as a result. From a weakening grip, to a sharp pain and/or aching feeling in the hands, neck, or shoulder, there’s no end to the potential effects that the condition can have on its host. Not only this, but cases of thoracic outlet syndrome that deliberately affects the arteries and veins under the collarbone via compression bring on another set of symptoms, including:

-       Cold fingers, hands, or arms

-       Numbness or tingling in the fingers

-       Weakness in the arms or neck

-       Arm pain or swelling

-       Discoloration of the hand (bluish color)

-       Weak or no pulse in the affected arm

-       Lack of color in one or more fingers

-       Throbbing lump near the collarbone

When coming to grips with a diagnosis of this condition, many afflicted with thoracic outlet syndrome will naturally wonder how and why they developed the disease. In most diagnosed cases of thoracic outlet syndrome, it is typically due to one of five reasons: Trauma, repetitive activity, anatomical defects, poor posture, or pregnancy.


1. Trauma

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome has the ability to be brought on through a traumatic event, like a car accident, and is typically cause by a strong blunt force to nerves in the thoracic outlet. In this case, nerves can be compressed, causing pain, swelling, and numbness as a result. However, in cases of traumatic events, the onset of symptoms is typically delayed.

2. Repetitive Actions

Those who frequently engage in activities where similar motion of the hand, arms, or shoulders is used, either through work, hobbies, or sport-related activities, have a more likely chance of developing thoracic outlet syndrome. Because many occupations require consistent movement of the hands or arms, many cases of thoracic outlet syndrome are in part to this reasoning.

3. Anatomical Defects

In some cases of thoracic outlet syndrome, a congenital defect may be the result of the condition’s appearance. Defects that may have this effect on patients can range from an extra rib located above the first rib, or an abnormally tight fibrous band connecting the spine to the rib.

4. Poor Posture

Maintaining a poor posture throughout the day, whether it be through sitting or standing improperly, can contribute to the development of thoracic outlet syndrome over time. Thankfully, improving posture as a preventative method is easy to correct. Simply avoid drooping your shoulders or maintaining your head in a forward position, making sure not to compress the thoracic outlet area, to help improve your poster and lower the risk of developing TOS.

5. Pregnancy

Finally, women who are pregnant have the tendency to develop thoracic outlet syndrome due to joints becoming much looser during pregnancy, as well as through weight gain in places that put unexpected pressure on these areas. In certain cases, thoracic outlet syndrome during pregnancy may also be caused by a deep vein thrombosis, due to extra pressure being put on the deep vein systems in the legs during this period.