Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

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CHARLOTTE – I’ve had several clients to have thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) finding success with massage as an option for relief.

What is TOS? In a nutshell, it’s a condition where the nerves (neurogenic is most common), arteries (arterial) or veins (venous) are compressed. It is in the thoracic area (lower neck over to the armpit). Overuse of certain muscles in the area constrict and compress the nerves (arteries or veins)

The client I dealt with had symptoms of pain and weakness. She had pain and weakness in her shoulders, neck, arms down to her hands. The pain was more of a burning and doctors treated her with anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as exercises she learned from her physical therapist. Her right hand was normally cold to the touch and she had weakness when she closed her hand. If it’s severe enough, surgery to cut some of the muscles might be necessary.

Neuromuscular massage (NMT) and myofascial release (MFR) are normally the modalities that seem to get the most results. According to the National Library of Medicine showed promising results. A woman (most common in women) had 6 50 minutes of massages over an 8 week period and did very well. Her improvement and relief lasted over a year.

If you suffer from TOS, ask your massage therapist if she is proficient in NMT (manual therapy that involves using friction to release muscles that are strained, stimulated the nervous system) and/or MFR (massage that works with the fascia of the muscles to eliminate pain).

-Lisa Lane (#13098) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in Mint Hill. See her website at

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