Types of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – Part 3/3

TOS types

There different types of TOS: neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, venous (VTOS) thoracic outlet syndrome, the arterial thoracic outlet syndrome, vascular thoracic outlet syndrome and the nonspecific thoracic outlet syndrome.

Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This is the most common type of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. About 95% of cases of TOS belong to this type. The brachial plexus compression is the main characteristic of this type of TOS. This is related with the abnormalities of having a bony and soft tissue on the region of the lower neck that also include the area of the cervical rib. It compresses and irritates the brachial plexus which is a complex network of nerves that supply the sensation and movement of the arms and hands.

Venous (VTOS)  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This is a condition that is caused by major vein damage in the upper chest and lower neck. It develops quite suddenly and usually has an effect of tiring and unusual arm exercises.

If a patient is suffering from this type of TOS, he or she would experience symptoms such as hand, fingers and arm swelling. The patient may also feel like a weight is put on his neck or arms. Weakness of arms and neck may also be experienced. Swollen anterior chest wall veins may also appear.

Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This is the least common type of thoracic outlet syndrome but this is also the most serious of all types. The cause for this type of TOS is congenital where an abnormality of the bones is situated on the lower neck and/or at the upper chest area. A person who suffers from this type of thoracic outlet syndrome experience symptoms such as sensitivity to cold in their fingers and hands, poor circulation of blood  to the arms, hands & fingers as well as pain, numbness and soreness of their fingers.

Vascular Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This type of thoracic outlet syndrome affects the blood vessels located in the neck, armpit, shoulder, arm, hand or forearm. Usually, the affected vessels are the brachial plexus or the subclavian vessels. Compression of the vessels, whether it is due to muscle or bone inflammation or because of scar tissue will cause circulation impairment. Swelling or cyanosis can be caused by the loss of circulation in the hands. With severe cases, one can suffer from the condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon which feels like your hands are burning. Cold usually trigger Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Nonspecific Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

It is also termed as common TOS or disputed TOS. There are doctors who doesn’t believe this type of TOS actually exist while other doctors say this condition is actually quite common. Patients suffering from this condition suffer from chronic pain on the thoracic outlet but there’s no known cause of the pain.



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