Our blood vessels and nerves map out a freeway cruising around our body. Blood circulates around to every morsel before heading back to the heart. Meanwhile your brain is using your nervous system highway while it sits perched at central command. And most of this happens in the blink of an eye without so much as a please or thank you. There are of course snags every once in a while. And just like rush hour in L.A. there are parts of the body where a bunch of blood vessels and nerves get squeezed into a congested area.
One of those areas is the space between collarbone and your first rib. And when traffic here gets bumper to bumper it becomes something named Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. So for today let’s go over one of the body’s main squeezes and learn some alternate roughs.
Normally, the small space between your collarbone and the first rib, which sits just behind it, is a snug place. But it can accommodate the bunch of nerves and blood vessels that travel as a pathway to the arm. With thoracic outlet syndrome, this space becomes compromised. And we find many creative ways to accomplish this. It can happen from an accident. Like in a car accident where the seatbelt pushes the collarbone back. Years of drooping your shoulders can also put on the squeeze. We can be set for this possibility from the get go.
Normally we only have ribs branching off our thoracic vertebrae. Some of us are born with a small rib coming off our lowest bone in our neck. This extra bone can sit right in the middle of the action. And then there’re those big purses that hold every thing but the kitchen sick and backpacks that are almost bigger than the kid caring it. All of these things can compromise the nerves and vessels in the area.
So what does Thoracic Outlet Syndrome feels like? Really it depends on what is being pinched. If the nerves (which are called the brachial plexus) are feeling the squeeze the messages between your brain are arm are going to go haywire. This could manifest as numbness, or commonly as electric like pain in the shoulder, arm or hand.
After a while you might have difficulty opening a pickle jar from a weakened grip. If a blood vessel is being pinched you might notice some swelling in your hand and possibly your hand hungry for blood might begin to look a little blue.
With Thoracic Outlet Syndrome you could wait around and hope it goes away. But life is short and there’s also a possibility of permanent damage out there. Chiropractors can often get to the bottom of this and can often take the pressure off the nerves and vessels. You might also want to look at your posture and keep your shoulders back. A good massage might be in order too.
When your body turns on the ‘check engine’ light, pop open the hood and do a little body maintenance.