A Touch of Health - Massage Therapy in Mississauga: Polarity therapy, reflexology, relaxation, detoxification, and healing by a registered massage therapist.
Virginia Hanspiker, Registered Massage Therapist A Touch of Health - Massage Therapy in Mississauga: Reiki, reflexology, relaxation, detoxification, and healing by a registered massage therapist.
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Carpal Tunnel or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Did you say tingling, shooting pains down the arm, or your hand feeling numb? Must be carpal tunnel. Maybe, and maybe not. Tight neck muscles can do much more than give you a headache. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) has very similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome. Each syndrome is named according to the structure it's compressing. TOS is also caused from pressure on a nerve, just like carpal tunnel is caused from pressure on the median nerve which runs through a 'tunnel' at the wrist into the hand. But this time, the nerve in question is in the brachial plexus, up around the neck and shoulder area.

When might we find thoracic outlet syndrome is the cause of numbness or tingling into a hand? There are a wide variety of reasons from muscular to postural and metabolic imbalance. People with extremely tight neck muscles can become prime targets for having thoracic outlet syndrome as the real cause of discomfort that runs down the arm or to the hand. Especially if those tight neck muscles were ignored for years. Those who used a crutch that pinched into the axilla (armpit), or leaning on one elbow too long or with your arm hanging over a chair, may experience these tingling, numb sensations that may indicate a nerve in the brachial plexus has been upset. This plexus supplies all the nerves that run into the arm and hand, so compression here can be felt the entire length of the nerve. Clients often describe the feeling as "pins-and-needles" or the hand "going to sleep". Swelling in the fingers may also be present.

Releasing the tension levels in the neck muscles concerned can have the same positive results of alleviating pressure on the tendons and compression on the nerve. As with any condition, treatment here depends on correctly identifying the type and cause of a person's thoracic outlet syndrome and reducing or eliminating the cause of the nerve compression. Client education on self-care, including exercise, stretch, nutrition and adjustments in postural or occupational factors is important, as with any massage treatment for a specific concern.


“Providing natural therapies to relieve stress or pain, and promote overall wellness.”

© Virginia Hanspiker, 2005