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Chiropractic Care for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome by Dr. Brendt Mendelblatt

Chiropractic care is far reaching. While most people associate chiropractic care and treatment with back or neck injuries, chiropractors can lend support to almost every region in the body. A condition that has been showing up a lot lately, which is not directly correlated with back pain, is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, an issue that predominantly affects the upper limbs.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), is a situation where nerves, arteries or veins become compressed. When these three structures run together, it is known as a “neurovascular bundle,” and a common spot for these bundles to become compressed is in the pathway leading from the lower neck to the armpit. This can cause pain, numbness and muscle weakness from the shoulder all the way down the arm and into the fingers. Another notable symptom is whole hand numbness.

Compression of these bundles can occur through many different ways. The most common causes directly correlated with TOS are postural issues and imbalances. These can include continuous bending of the neck forward or to the side, and improper sleeping positions. For instance, the straps from very heavy bags, like purses, backpacks or camera bags that put significant weight on the shoulder and neck regions commonly cause symptoms consistent with TOS.

Other causes that might lead to TOS are repetitive traumas. Examples of this can be seen in a car accident victim who experiences whiplash, with their head and neck moving forward and then backwards extremely quickly. Athletes, such as baseball pitchers, can experience TOS when they use high velocity to throw a baseball. That repetitive motion can affect the entire region, from the neck to the shoulder to the arm. Finally, in rare instances, patients are born with a condition known as a “cervical rib,” a congenital anomaly that is known to occlude these neurovascular bundles as well.

Although TOS is a serious condition, it is one that can be treated fairly conservatively. Chiropractic care is known to provide relief to patients experiencing symptoms that are consistent with TOS. Care and treatment includes chiropractic adjustment, postural correction, stretching and exercises, manual traction of the cervical region and soft tissue massage. In conjunction with these forms of treatment, various modalities have proven to be very effective including heat, electric stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound. All of these help to strengthen the symptomatic regions, while providing relief and limiting compression to the affected areas and structures.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is a condition that can affect a person’s daily activities and lifestyle. It causes pain and discomfort throughout the upper extremities, and can affect pretty much anyone at any time. Luckily, chiropractic care can painlessly relieve these symptoms, while strengthening the area to prevent another issue like this from arising.

Dr. Brendt Mendelblatt, a lifelong resident of Rockland County, is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College. He is proficient in diversified adjusting, both manual and instrument assisted soft tissue massage, and flexion and distraction technique. His office is located at 28 Bardonia Rd. in Bardonia. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 623-1558 or visit

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