Thoracic outlet syndrome is a painful condition that occurs when your collarbone slides forward due to poor muscle control, putting pressure on the nerves between your collarbone and your top rib. Injury, illness and genetics could cause you to develop thoracic outlet syndrome. The main symptoms of the condition are an aching pain in the shoulder, arm or neck; swelling or redness in one of your arms; and a limited range of motion in your affected arm.
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Relieve your thoracic outlet syndrome pain with a corner stretch. Stand in the corner of a room and face the walls, about 1 foot away. Reach your arms up and place each palm flat against a wall, with one hand on each wall at shoulder height. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch across the front of your chest. Hold the position for five seconds, then release.
Stretch your neck muscles to relieve pressure on your nerves caused by thoracic outlet syndrome. While sitting comfortably in a chair, raise your left arm and bring your left hand up and over your head, placing your hand on the right side of your head. Lean your left ear toward your left shoulder to stretch the right side of your neck. Hold this position for five seconds, then release and repeat on the other side.
Keeping your eyes and jaw level, pull your head straight back, as if you're trying to give yourself a double chin. This is a very subtle stretch. Hold the position for five seconds, then release.
Perform classic shoulder rolls by slowly shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears, then moving your shoulders back behind you, then down toward the floor. Repeat this movement several times to release tension in your neck and shoulders.
Lie flat on your stomach with your hands clasped together behind your back. Slowly lift your head and chest off the floor as far as you can go. Breathe deeply and squeeze your shoulder blades together, keeping your chin tucked in toward your chest as you move. Hold the pose for five seconds, then release.
You can maintain your weight-lifting workout while you have thoracic outlet syndrome, but you should adapt your routine a bit to prevent further injury. Avoid exercises that focus on your pectoral muscles, such as bench presses and snatch exercises. Instead, focus on working your shoulder muscles, including your deltoids and rhomboids, as well as your biceps and triceps.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Thoracic Outlet Syndrome; January 2011
- Cape Shoulder Institute; Thoracic Outlet Syndrome; DG Harris
- The Ohio State University Medical Center: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Exercises II
- MayoClinic.com; Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Treatment and Drugs; Nov. 6, 2010
- NISMAT; Physical Therapy Corner: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome; April 2009