Auto Accident Law 101

Auto Accident Law 101

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, A Common Work-Related Shoulder Injury

Everett Cook

Many people have problems with their shoulder joints. However, many people who have shoulder joint dysfunction may not recognize the problem being related to their shoulder. One condition in particular, called thoracic outlet syndrome, is a dysfunction around the shoulder that can lead to issues in the hand. Many patients who have this condition may believe that the issue is in their hand, and treat it as such. However, recognizing signs and symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome can help patients seek the appropriate treatment. Because this is such a common condition in manual laborers, recognizing it, and recognizing the importance for hiring a worker's compensation attorney, is very beneficial.

Signs and Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome can present in several ways. However, some of the following are some of the most common complaints by individuals experiencing the condition.

  • Numbness in the ring and small finger
  • Tingling in the ring and small finger
  • Numbness and/or tingling on the small finger side of the hand
  • Hand weakness
  • Wasting of muscles on the small finger side of the hand
  • Heaviness in the arms
  • Swelling sensation in the arms (although no swelling is present)

How Does Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Occur?

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when a bundle of nerves and blood vessels that passes into the arm becomes compressed by structures around the shoulder joint. There are three different locations where this bundle of nerves and blood vessels can become compressed.

  1. Between neck muscles called the scalenes
  2. Beneath the pectoralis minor muscle (in the chest)
  3. Between the first rib and the collar bone

When the space around these structures is limited, compression of the structures occurs, which can compromise their function. Compression of this nerve and blood vessel bundle is very common in individuals who work overhead, such as painters and construction workers.

How is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Treated?

The treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome revolves around reducing the compression on the nerves and arteries that are affected. Some of the most commonly utilized treatments by physiotherapists include soft tissue mobilization, nerve glides, and scapular taping techniques.

Soft tissue mobilization involves massaging the affected structures. Typically, this is performed over the scalene muscles in the neck, and over the pectoralis minor muscle in the chest. By performing this massage technique, the muscles are able to relax, and the nerves and blood vessels can move through the area more easily.

Nerve glides can be performed to help the entrapped nerves move more fluidly through the affected area. When the nerves move better, fewer issues are likely to be present.

Scapular taping techniques are designed to help provide more space in the shoulder joint for the nerves and blood vessels. By taping the shoulder blades back, the chest expands, and more space is available through which these structures can pass. With more space in the area, many people experience complete relief of their symptoms.

Although these treatment techniques are effective at treating thoracic outlet syndrome, they may take several weeks to fully treat the condition. During this time period, individuals may not be able to perform their job thoroughly. To protect their financial well-being as well as their job, a worker's compensation injury lawyer should be consulted. This professional can provide legal advice and protection from unnecessary financial burden, by helping their clients get the financial assistance they need while they recover from their work-related injury.

To learn more, contact a company like Randall A. Wolff & Associates, Ltd. with any questions you have.


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About Me
Auto Accident Law 101

After being involved in a serious auto accident with a drunk driver, I struggled heavily with getting the driver's insurance company to open a claim. When the insurance company started pushing back, I knew I needed to do something. I spent a lot of time digging through the laws surrounding auto accident claims so that I knew what my legal rights were. I even talked with an auto accident attorney. I created this site to teach others about what I learned, including my court experience. I hope it helps you to determine how you should proceed with your auto accident case.