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Tingling Shoulder and arm pain can be a sign of thoracic outlet syndrome. Having TOS can lead to a life of depending on your spouse for basic things, having to learn how to use your other arm for everything, and so much more. But the good news is TOS is treatable if done in the right way. That's why I have listed what getting a diagnose of thoracic outlet syndrome means and 5 ways for treating thoracic outlet syndrome. 

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

In case you missed my last article, I'll do a very light recap.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, or TOS for short, is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed.

In other words, anytime the nerves or blood vessels that come out of your spine and into your shoulder become compressed, it will be classified as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. You can learn more about the different kinds of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, pain patterns, and how we get it by clicking here.

If You Got A Diagnose of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Getting a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome can mean a lot of things. The biggest problem you will run into though, is determining what caused it in the first place.

Most reasons for TOS are going to be due to overactive muscles becoming tight and compressing onto your nerves.

Now when a muscle becomes overactive and tight, it could be because of repetitive activities, poor posture, or even minor injuries. This is why most of our pain from TOS can be treated on our own to the point the pain doesn't return.

From the Best Option to the Worse, 5 Treatments for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

I have listed below 5 recommendations to treat thoracic outlet syndrome. Now, be warned, I am biased on this list, but everything I put here comes from either research, experience, and/or stories from all kinds of people I've worked with and help in the past.

Best Massage For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

The number one thing you can do to help treat thoracic outlet syndrome is to get a massage. Not just any kind of massage, I'm talking about a trigger point and myofascial massage.

Here's why:

If you recall, most of our pain is going to come from overactive muscles, and the best way to get rid of tight muscles is with a trigger point massage. Trigger points are tiny bundles of nerves that become irritated and stay overactive when we overuse a muscle to much.

When a muscle becomes overactive it will shorten, pulling closer together all the joints and tissues connected to it. This causes everything connected to that muscle to become tight, which usually results in compression.

Now, when a muscle becomes overactive and stays that way for some time, it will begin to develop layers of fascia around it. Fascia helps create and hold our posture by wrapping layers of thin connective tissue around muscles, causing cast-like support.

This is where myofascial massage comes into play.

A myofascial massage helps remove the layers of the cast-forming fascia, allowing the muscles to actually return back to its normal length.

Here at Train and Massage San Diego, this is the kind of massage we specialize in. The best part is it can all be done over the clothes, so you don't need to worry about getting undressed and feeling exposed. You can learn more about us by going here, San Diego Massage.

And by the way, I can teach you how to perform a self-massage on yourself to get rid of your TOS. If you want to check that out, click on this link.

Stretches For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Similar to massaging, stretching for thoracic outlet syndrome can be beneficial. By stretching the muscles causing the compression around the nerves and blood vessels you'll be able to open up space and feel relief.

Now, from my experience and from talking to other professionals, we have found that it's more effective to stretch after getting a massage or foam rolling. We believe it's because, with a massage, you can eliminate the cast-forming fascia and relax the muscle's nervous system prior to stretching. If you stretched prior to getting a massage, then you're also fighting the "cast" and the nervous system. I have a full sequence for releasing and stretching the correct muscles for TOS. Click here to check that out.

Physical Therapy For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Based on personal experience and hearing from previous clients, Physical Therapy isn't the best overall option IN THE BEGINNING for treating thoracic outlet syndrome.

Here's why:

Most physical therapists will have you spend the majority of your time performing exercises as opposed to getting rid of the tight muscles. Now, I believe you 100% need to do this, and I would agree.

BUT, the problem is they are doing it in the wrong order.

When physical therapists give you exercises, they are usually training the muscles that go against the muscles causing your pain. At least they should be, in my opinion.

For example: if your biceps were causing the pain, they should train the triceps to help reverse the tight bicep.

BUT, just like stretching before a massage, if you try to train the opposite muscles prior to eliminating the "fascia cast" and relaxing the nervous system, then you will be training a losing battle.

Have you ever felt minimal relief from weeks of physical therapy? This is probably the reason.

Online DIY Course

Not many people know about this but here at Train And Massage we created an online course for a thoracic outlet syndrome treatment. More than 80% of people with TOS will have pain because of tight muscles, and because of this, they can actually get rid of the pain by themselves and in a faster time!

We even created and use some of the most accurate tests for thoracic outlet syndrome that you can do at home.

This sounds too good to be true, right?

No joke, all it's going to take is a simple sequence of self-massage, exercises, and stretching performed in the correct order to give you not only relief from the pain but to also keep the pain from returning.

And the best part is, if I'm wrong and you are the unlucky 20% this can't help, you can ask for a 100% refund, no hassle.

Check out the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Course by clicking on the button below.

Surgery For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Finally, the last thing anyone wants to hear, surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Why would you have to go through surgery? I believe the most likely scenario is having a birth deformity. Even though it's rare, some of us may grow an extra rib within the cervical spine that ends up causing compression on the nerves and blood vessels naturally.

If this is the case then, one, I'm sorry to hear that, and two, surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome is most likely your best option for getting rid of the pain.


For the most part, Thoracic outlet syndrome treatments can come in many shapes and forms, and depending on the kind of expert you talk to, they will all recommend something completely different. Being a Human Movement Specialist, I have learned that most of our pain from TOS comes from our posture and muscles becoming overactive which is why the first option you should look into is a specialized massage or stretching.

About the Author Adam

Adam is the owner of Train and Massage and has earned multiple certifications including Human Movement Specialist, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and More.

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