Thoracic Outlet and Carpal Tunnel

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Massage Therapy: A Case Report

Wesley Bond


Background: Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition caused by compression of nerves or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet. Symptoms are typically ipsilateral and include numbness, tingling, and burning sensations down the length of the affected arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common entrapment neuropathy, affecting approximately 3 to 6 percent of adults in the general population. CTS is defined as a disorder caused by compression at the wrist of the median nerve supplying the hand, causing numbness and tingling.

Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of massage therapy in the concurrent treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Methods: A 53 year old female massage therapist was diagnosed with dual thoracic outlet syndrome and dual carpal tunnel syndrome. Massage therapy was administered twice weekly for 60 minutes over a 5 week period. Each 60 minute treatment included a 15 minute intake and postural assessment. Daily pain levels were recorded by the patient on daily visual analog scales (VAS). Mostly deep tissue, and some neuromuscular techniques were used.

Results: Overall pain levels and symptom prevalence were reduced with massage. Activities of daily living, particularly giving massages, were more tolerable for the patient at the end of this case study. The patient also reported an improvement in the quality of sleep she was getting.

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