Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is well-treated using naturopathic medicine.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in your thoracic outlet, the space between your collarbone and your first rib become compressed. Compression may be caused by injury (e.g., automobile accident), repetitive strain (e.g., baseball pitching), poor posture or chronic joint stress (e.g., daily carrying of a heavy backpack).

Untreated, thoracic outlet syndrome can cause permanent nerve damage.

Seek professional healthcare if you consistently experience symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome.

Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Possible symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome include:

  • Pain in your shoulder and neck
  • Pain in your arm or hand (usually of an aching quality)
  • Swelling in your arm
  • Weakness of your hand grip
  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers
  • Discoloration (bluish) or pallor (paleness) of your hand or fingers
  • Tiny black spots (infarcts) on your fingers

Treatment of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goal of thoracic outlet syndrome treatments is significant or complete symptom, and prevention of recurrence. Conventional treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome may include physical therapy or surgery, and anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating thoracic outlet syndrome may be to:

  • Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., stress causing muscle tension, poor posture) that may be contributing to development of thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Reduce pain by correcting nerve or blood vessel impingement using Bowen Therapy or Suikodo™

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors are covered by most extended healthcare plans.


Thoracic outlet syndrome [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2009 Feb 18]. Available from: