Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a specific group of signs and symptoms resulting from compression of the subclavian artery, subclavian vein, and brachial plexus. The compression can occur at scalene muscle level, between the clavicle and the first rib, or in the area of the coracoid process. The structure being compressed can be the brachial plexus, an artery, or a vein.

The athlete may complain of muscle tightness and pain about the shoulder, neck, and clavicle at the position in the stroke in which the hand enters the water; pain in the lower face and ear; headache; radiating pain into the shoulder, thumb, and index and middle fingers; weakness and fatigue of the deltoid, biceps, triceps, or forearm muscles; loss of strength of the intrinsic muscles of the hand; and inability to control movement of the hand during the sculling motion of the pull-through phase.45

The diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome is not easy. Nevertheless, dry needling acupuncture is very effective in preventing and treating these symptoms. For prevention, the athlete should receive regular weekly de-stressing treatments. Treatment of the symptoms should include the neck, shoulders, upper limbs, upper and lower back, hips, and lower limbs. Two treatment sessions per week are required.

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