Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a collection of symptoms of pain and numbness that can extend from the neck area to the hand.

Symptoms often result from the compression of nerve and blood structures in the space between the scalene muscles in the neck, collarbone and first rib.

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs more often in people who perform repetitive activities above the shoulders such as swimming, racquet sports or simply in manual workers. This syndrome is more common in women than in men.

Nerves and blood vessels in the space between the muscles of the neck, collarbone and first rib are often involved in this condition.

A fracture of the collarbone, altered posture, a supernumerary rib or overdeveloped chest muscles can lead to thoracic outlet syndrome.

Symptoms depend on which vascular or nerve structures are compressed. Thoracic outlet syndrome can produce, but is not limited to, pain in the neck, shoulder, arm or hand. Symptoms may also include numbness in the forearm and some fingers. People may also experience a feeling of weakness on the affected side.

Compression of the blood vessels may cause a decrease in blood flow to the arm, resulting in increased swelling and redness in that arm. Symptoms usually appear or increase when the arms are extended, or held high above the shoulders for a period of time. They are often more acute at night.

Your rehabilitation plan, health profile and fitness level affect the recovery time. In most cases, you can expect a full recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery will depend on the severity of the compression.

A few days of rest by reducing activities that cause pain may be necessary. A gradual return to your daily activities, light cardiovascular exercise and mobility and strengthening exercises will allow for better recovery.

Follow your therapist’s advice. This will help you manage the various stages of the healing process and increase the odds of successful rehabilitation. Your therapist will accompany you during your rehabilitation program to help you regain optimal posture, joint range of motion, muscle flexibility, muscle endurance and functional status.

According to the principles of thoracic outlet syndrome, improving posture and reducing muscle tension would be two important elements for functional recovery. A progressive rehabilitation program over a period of a few weeks is quite common.Do not rely solely on a passive treatment approach. Each phase of the rehabilitation process is important. Patients who actively participate in their treatment plan tend to recover more quickly. Remember that pain is not always a good indicator of tissue damage. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well under control, introduce, in collaboration with your therapist, light and progressive exercises based on your tolerance.


Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain (ACL Sprain)

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain is a partial or complete stretch or tear of the ligament. This injury is relatively common among athletes and physical activity enthusiasts.It occurs mainly during a sudden pivot, a hyperextension movement of the knee, a jump or after a contact behind the leg. Movements that cause rapid twisting or hyperextension of the knee joint can lead to ACL injury.An audible creak may be heard at the time of injury and the knee may sometimes appear unstable.


Structures involved

The anterior cruciate ligament is the main structure involved. The function of the ​anterior cruciate ligament is to stabilize the knee and prevent hyperextension. ACL sprains often occur in conjunction with other knee injuries such as torn m​ eniscus​, ​articular cartilage​ lesion​ o​ r ​collateral ligament​ injury.


Signs & Symptoms that you may experience

Each person will react differently after an injury and recovery will depend on the severity of the injury. Sprained ACL can produce, but is not limited to,​ pain and swelling, often immediate, around the knee. The range of motion of the knee is often limited and the knee may be sensitive to touch.



Your rehabilitation plan, health profile, fitness level and nutritional status affect the recovery time. In most cases, you can expect full recovery from an ACL sprain. Typically, this injury can take a few months to fully recover.

Stress and Weight 

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Bottom Line:

A recent research study found over 75% of people experience at least a moderate amount of stress every day! 

Chronic stress is not fun to deal with, but did you know it can also affect your weight? 

When you are stressed your body goes into survival (or “fight or flight”) mode which changes your hormonal balance. You don’t need to be running from a saber tooth tiger to enter fight or flight mode. Even everyday events like traffic and stress at work can cause you to have that physiological response. 

Why it Matters:

Recent research suggests that chronic stress can result in:

  • high blood pressure,
  • changes in your brain,
  • and weight gain.

When you are stressed out, it is more likely that you will over-eat and less likely that you will get enough sleep and exercise. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone that can produce a build-up of fatty tissue and cause weight gain. Cortisol increases both your appetite and the amount of fat the body stores. By recognizing your stressors, and engaging in a few simple relaxation techniques, you can learn to reduce your body’s natural stress response. 

  • The hormone Cortisol is released in response to stress and increases your blood sugar.
  • Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels. 
  • An association has been found between increased cortisol levels and obesity.

Next Steps: 

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or even simple breathing exercises can help your body counter the stress response. Also, exercise has been shown to decrease stress levels substantially. 

The next time you are feeling stressed out, take a moment to breathe a few deep breaths and try to get some exercise into your schedule that day. Not only will you feel better mentally, but your body will be able to reduce the amount of Cortisol produced which will limit your body’s fat storage and help curb any thoughts of over-eating. Staying fit and trim does start in your head! 

Science Source(s): 

Hair Cortisol and Adiposity in a Population‐Based Sample of 2,527 Men and Women Aged 54 to 87 Years. Obesity 2017

Don’t Have Enough Time to Exercise? 

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Bottom Line:

You’re busy and you’re stressed out. Well, you’re not alone. 

These are two of the most common reasons people give for not exercising consistently. Ironically, these are the two exact reasons you should be exercising and moving your body! 

Moving your body releases endorphins which help you feel good, relaxes your mind which reduces stress, and burns calories to keep you looking great. 

Why it Matters:

Your body is meant to move. Long hours commuting in your car or sitting at a desk can place a lot of stress on your musculoskeletal system. 

If your spine and core muscles are weak and unstable, then you are more likely to suffer an injury which can cause a downward spiral that impacts your relationships with food, sleep, and exercise. So taking a pro-active approach to your exercise routine is crucial to live your best life. Chiropractic adjustments are an essential part of the picture because they can help you feel good mentally and keep you moving physically. 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight can decrease the risk factors for cardiovascular and heart disease.
  • Even 15 minutes of light exercise can make a difference in your overall health.
  • Exercise can help you feel good both physically and mentally.

Next Steps: 

Schedule time every day to exercise. But, don’t get discouraged if you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Rome wasn’t built in a day! 

Even 15 minutes of walking during your afternoon break can provide you with the health benefits you are looking for. Burning an extra hundred calories per day (which could be accomplished with 10 minutes of walking) adds up to thousands of calories each month. Continue that trend, and you will notice inches falling off your waistline before you know it! 

Science Source(s): 

The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 2015

Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep 

Bottom Line:

Staying up late one night usually only results in feeling a little tired the next day, but when this happens day after day, it can really start to negatively affect your life. Research has shown that a lack of proper sleep can result in irritability, increased stress, a weakened immune system, and even joint pains. However, by developing a few healthy habits, you’ll be able to ensure that your brain and body get the rest the deserve, so you are ready to have a productive next day. 

Why it Matters:

Practicing a relaxing nighttime ritual, such as powering down your electronics and reading a book, can help prepare your body for a good night’s sleep – and don’t forget the TV. While some people like to sleep with the television on, researchers have found that minimizing background noise can actually help your brain get more rest. In our own office, we’ve also heard from countless patients that they get a better night’s sleep after getting adjusted, which makes sense considering the numerous benefits of Chiropractic care.  

– Wind down for approximately 30 minutes before bed by turning off your electronics. 

– Minimize background noise to help your brain get much-deserved rest.

– Many patients report a more restful sleep after getting adjusted. 

Next Steps: 

Looking for more tips on how you can get a better night’s sleep? Come to our upcoming workshop where we’ll teach you about the best sleep position for your spine, how sleep helps your immune system stay strong, and how Chiropractic care can decrease the stress you hold in those muscles supporting your neck and shoulders. If you want to Sleep Better Tonight, then this workshop is for you! 

Science Source: 

Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School 2018

EOS Sleep Centers. Dr. David Volpi 

Block out that noise 

The world’s noise gets very quiet when you’re in tune with yourself

Wise words indeed. When we are out of sorts with ourselves we get what professional athletes call “rabbit ears”. We hear everything going on around us and it distracts us from what we need to do. 
Get your body, your conscious mind and your subconscious mind all pulling in the same direction and those outside distractions become nothing more than white noise. 

Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule 

Bottom Line:

Neck and back pain are the most common reasons people experience sleep disturbances. Patients talk about sleeping on the floor, or sleeping in a lazy boy, or even sleeping bent over their bed attempting to get into a position that helps them get those few precious moments of rest and relief. Talk about a pain! All you want is the ability to get some rest, yet every position seems to make things feel worse. Well, don’t worry – you’re in the right place to get back on track!

Why it Matters:

Your body needs rest to heal.  If you are in pain, it can be challenging to find a comfortable position to rest. As Chiropractors, we understand this better than anyone. Chiropractic care has been shown to increase your spinal range of motion, decrease inflammation, and even reduce the pressure on the delicate nerves exiting your spinal column – all of which will make it much easier to find a comfortable sleep position. 

  • Finding a comfortable position to sleep when you’re in pain can be difficult.
  • Adjustments reduce the stress on your spine, helping you more easily find a comfortable position to sleep.
  • Sleep is essential to healing because your body is better able to accelerate the healing process when properly rested. 

Next Steps: 

If stress has kept you up at night, you’re not alone. However, you can rest easy knowing you’re in the right place! Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce the stress in the muscles supporting your head and neck, allowing you to experience a more comfortable – and more restful – night of sleep. 

Science Source: 

Neurophysiologic effects of spinal manipulation in patients with chronic low back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2011

Sugar: The Beach Body Killer 

Bottom Line:

If you have a sweet tooth, you know it can be difficult to avoid sugary foods like pastries, candy, or even soda. Which sugary food is your weakness? 

Researchers have proven that sugar is a key contributor to weight gain. But how? 

Well, sugar is made up of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose is what your body uses for energy. Fructose, on the other hand, is a molecule that your liver turns to fat and is a key contributor to weight gain and disease. 

Why it Matters:

When you eat a lot of sugar, it causes your blood glucose to rise, which can be toxic. So your body produces insulin to get the glucose out of your blood and into the cells to be used for energy. Over time, your body can actually build a resistance to insulin which means that your pancreas works harder to create the same balance. When the resistance to insulin reaches a critical point, it can result in type II diabetes. But first, your body begins storing an overabundance of fat in your fat cells. The worst part? Not only do you start “gaining weight” but your body has a tough time getting the energy out of the fat cells, which means your brain thinks you are hungry, and you eat even more. What a vicious cycle! 

– Excess sugar can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

– Eating sugary foods can result in your body storing away more fat.

– Sugar can trick your brain into thinking it’s still hungry (even after you’ve eaten a full meal).

Next Steps: 

Staying fit and healthy can be challenging, but we’re here for you. How you choose to eat is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life. When you make good choices about how you eat, how you move, and how you think – you are set up for a healthy life. 

Science Source(s): 

Sugar Consumption, Metabolic Disease and Obesity: The State of the Controversy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016

Sleeping Well Can Keep You Healthy 

Bottom Line:

New research has shown that not only can a good night’s sleep keep you mentally sharp, but it can also help you stay healthy by strengthening your immune system. For years physicians have believed that sleep supports the healing process, and now new evidence has been discovered that indicates sleep also plays a role in regulating your immune function. Your immune system is the complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that protect your body from disease, so keeping that system functioning at its highest level is very important to your overall health and wellness. 

Why it Matters:

While you’re asleep, your central nervous system is in constant communication with your immune system. Many immune system functions operate on a 24 hour cycle, just like your sleep schedule. In fact, your T-cells, which are some of the most important immune cells, are very, very active while you’re asleep. Everyone may not require the same amount of sleep, but the research is clear: getting a good night’s sleep will help bolster your immune system. 

  • Your body uses sleep as its time to rest and recover.
  • Sleep patterns are tightly linked to your immune function.
  • Chronic sleep issues promote inflammation and pain. 

Next Steps: 

Sleeping well has been proven to be an essential part of staying healthy. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can make it extremely difficult to get a good night’s sleep and leave you feeling tired and sleepy all day. If you have experienced difficulty sleeping, let us know. We have an upcoming workshop where we’ll be discussing not only the causes of many of these issues, but also the action steps you can take to FINALLY get a great night of sleep! 

Science Source: 

Sleep and immune function. European Journal of Physiology. 2012 

The Best Sleep Position 

Bottom Line:

One of the most common questions we get from patients is: “What’s the best sleeping position?” Considering you spend nearly one-third of your life sleeping, this is an important question to ask! Top researchers have found one of the best positions to sleep is on your side with your head supported, shoulders centered, and a pillow between your legs. This allows for the best alignment of your spine and reduces the pressure on your neck, low back, hips, and legs – all of which leads to a more restful night of sleep.

Why it Matters:

Sleeping is the time where your body can maximize rest and recovery. Not only can a lack of sleep cause grogginess the next day, but chronic sleep issues can lead to depression, insomnia, and even make aches and pains worse! If you have ever woken up with a “crick” in your neck, you know how taxing an awkward sleeping position can be on your spine. Maintaining a neutral position and keeping your spine in alignment overnight is an essential part of waking up energized and ready to conquer the day. 

  • Chronic sleep disturbances have been linked to depression and many common pain syndromes.
  • Maintaining proper spinal alignment at night can decrease your aches and pains.
  • Sleeping on your side with your head and legs supported is the best sleep position for your spine.

Next Steps: 

Tonight, when you lie in bed, take a look and make sure your nose and belly button are in alignment. If they are, it’s a good sign your spine is in both an optimal and comfortable sleep posture. Then, take a small pillow and place it between your knees to give your legs and hips that proper added support. Following these quick tips will help you get into the best position to have a great night’s sleep. 

Science Source: 

National Sleep Foundation. 

Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School 2018