News You Can Use (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) April 30, 2011Posted by FCM in health, news you can use, thats random.
Tags: thoracic outlet syndrome, womens clothing
awhile back, i posted about food sensitivities and i find that i keep referring to it myself, to see what foods are on the list. i found it useful, in real life. at the time, i didnt know whether “news you can use” would become a series, or if it was just a one-time thing. so…series it is!*
i have had reason of late to do some learnin’ about thoracic outlet syndrome. dont ask. it can be quite serious, and can cause anything from varying degrees of pain and neurological symptoms, to deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) which can kill you, or cause you to lose an arm. yay! apparently, its caused by “pressure on the nerves or blood vessels as they go through the thoracic outlet,” and causes a cluster of symptoms that may include some or all of these, in the neck, upper back and arm, and usually on just one side of the body: coldness in the upper arm or chest, fatigue, numbness, pain, swelling, tingling, and weakness.
heres some anatomy! from the link:
Between the rib cage and the collarbone (clavicle) is a space where the main blood vessels and nerves pass from the neck and the chest into the arm. This space is called the thoracic outlet. From this outlet, the nerves and blood vessels leave the neck between two muscles (scalene muscles).
theres important stuff in there! and from what i can gather, thoracic outlet syndrome is normally due to either neck trauma, or from repetitive use of the arm. and more women get it than men. hmm! while the evolutionary biologists (and fat theorists–apparently “obesity” is also a risk factor) are wanking over that one, heres a few more pictures i thought were relevant (remember, this is caused by pressure on the nerves and blood vessels between the neck and the shoulder):
interesting right? the scholarly article in the first link mentions extremely briefly that “large breasts” and “heavy backpacks” can rarely (read: are known to sometimes) cause this excruciating and dangerous neurovascular disorder, and the second article mentions that a behavior modification you can adopt to treat it, after you already have it, is to wear a strapless bra. interesting, again!
reading various articles about it online also reveals that this is very commonly misdiagnosed, because the symptoms are vague and are similar to a number of other conditions like herniated cervical discs, with radiating pain down the arm. heres what i would like to suggest, in general, if you are able: if you have any kind of an injury at all, or anything to do with a shoulder or a knee in particular, go to an orthopedist that specializes in sports injuries. just do it. my mom (a nurse who was married to a doctor for 15 looong years) told me a long time ago that doctors that specialize in sports medicine are completely different than regular docs who treat “sick people”: sports medicine docs treat healthy, active people who have hurt themselves, by being active. for some reason, the mentality around this is completely different, for the doctor. different than say general practitioners, or those who deal with degenerative or congenital defects, or health problems related to aging. apparently, theres a difference between treating sick people and injured people, or perhaps a different kind of person is drawn to treating one kind of patient over another? i dont know, but docs who treat injured, yet healthy and active people for a living seem to take their patients more seriously, and listen more closely to their patients histories, and complaints. i am not saying this is good, or right, or fair, or anything. all i am saying is this is probably news you can use.
and for trauma and repetitive-trauma to shoulders and knees, sports medicine specialists have just about seen it all. the doc i saw diagnosed me within a few minutes, saying that i had one of the most textbook-cases of thoracic outlet syndrome he had ever seen. and instead of being misdiagnosed for years, as frequently happens, i am getting treated, now, and its reversible, if you catch it in time.
i hope this is helpful to someone! oh, and you all know that women have more foot problems than men too right, and that its because of womens shoes? okay good. that is all.
*i would like to dedicate this series to my mother, who told me, very helpfully, when i was four years old: “if you are sick with diarrhea and you feel like you have to fart, go to the bathroom.” largely thanks to her, and that one piece of sage advice, i havent crapped my pants since i was 4. and i know for a fact that there are many, many people who cant say that. so, thanks mom!