In the United States there were over 3 million cases of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) diagnosed last year. People with possible CTS have numbness, tingling, and weakness in their hand and fingers, more specifically, the thumb and first two fingers. The problem is that there is another syndrome with the exact same symptoms that is becoming much more prevalent in this country due, in part, to our increasing reliance on computers and technology. It is called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).
In fact, recent studies have shown that 85% of carpal tunnel cases are not true cases and are misdiagnosed. Though the two are very similar in their symptomology, they are very different. The good news is that both are usually treatable without invasive surgery or injections.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by a compression of nerves, blood vessels, or both in the area in the chest between the base of the neck and the armpit. It can present as pain, weakness or tingling in the fingers, hand, or forearm, as well as neck and back pain. With blood vessel compression; impaired circulation to the extremities causing discoloration will be present. Symptoms will often reproduce or worsen when positioning the arm above the shoulder or keeping the arm extended for extended periods of time. There are many different tests available to assess for thoracic outlet syndrome.
Regular massage with a therapist who has a thorough understanding of the myofascial and nervous systems will help to keep muscles loose and functioning properly. The additional training that each of the therapists at Keystone Body Therapies receives allows us to properly assess and treat both carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome, targeting the exact cause of the pain and dysfunction, instead of just addressing the symptoms.