What Are My Treatment Options for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?
Most people’s symptoms generally improve through conservative approaches such as physical therapy and pain relief measures. In some cases, however, surgical intervention may be necessary.
- Physical therapy: This is the first line of treatment. Exercises are introduced to improve your range of motion and improve your posture. Over time, these may take the pressure off your blood vessels and nerves in the thoracic outlet.
- Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, pain medications or muscle relaxants are introduced to reduce pain and encourage muscle relaxation.
- Clot-dissolving medications: Thrombolytics (clot-dissolving) and anticoagulants may be introduced to dissolve blood clots and prevent future blood clots from forming.
If you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms, surgery may be required for effective treatment.
This may be performed using several different approaches, including:
- Transaxillary approach: This requires an incision in your chest to access the first rib, divide the muscles in front of the rib and, remove a portion of the first rib to relieve compression.
- Supraclavicular approach: This requires an incision just under your neck to expose your brachial plexus region. Signs of trauma or muscles contributing to compression are explored. The compressed blood vessel is repaired. The muscles causing the compression, and/or first rib may be removed to relieve compression.
- Infraclavicular approach: A more invasive approach to treat compressed veins that require extensive repair. This approach requires an incision under your collarbone and across your chest.