THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME
Common cause of tingling in the arm.
There are several disorders of the neck, shoulders, and arms that can cause the sensation of numbness or tingle in the arms and hands. An often overlooked cause is a disorder called thoracic outlet syndrome. Symptoms in this disorder usually occur at night, while working with the arms elevated or with the neck in the rotated or forward bent position.
The numbness or tingling to the arms in thoracic outlet syndrome results from friction on the nerve bundle which passes out of the neck through the top of the shoulder to the arm. Thoracic outlet syndrome can occur gradually over several months or can result from injury to the neck such as whiplash. Friction on the nerve bundle can be caused by an extra rib on the lowest vertebra in the neck, but this is rare. A more common cause is the tightness of the muscles in this area because of poor joint motion in the lower neck.
Undiagnosed thoracic outlet syndrome is the most common cause of numbness and pain to the arms in whiplash patients. A study of 111 patients with whiplash injuries at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine found 40 (36%) to have thoracic outlet syndrome.
Surgical treatment is unnecessary in the great majority of patients with this disorder. Dr. John Hoffman, Clinical Assistant Professor of Rehabilitative Medicine at the University of Tennessee, in a summary of effective treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome, emphasized the importance of manipulation, the primary treatment used by chiropractors. He states that a program of manipulation and exercise is quite effective in controlling the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. Chiropractors have enjoyed a good success in helping those patients with this disorder.
Anyone with numbness or tingling in the hands or arms should have chiropractic evaluation for thoracic outlet syndrome.