Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)

COMPRESSION OF THE NEUROVASCULAR STRUCTURES AS THEY EXIT THROUGH THE THORACIC OUTLET


Our peripheral nerve surgeons are leading experts at treating thoracic outlet syndrome

About TOS

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is where compressed nerves and blood vessels between your collarbone and first rib cause neck and upper limb pain. It also causes neurological problems such as numbness in the arm and hand, and reduced function. 

TOS may result from trauma, repetitive arm movements, tumours, or anatomical variations such as a cervical rib. It can also occur during pregnancy.

Need to know 

Trauma such as a car accident, repetitive movement such as weight-lifting and a particular anatomy of the neck can cause TOS. However, a main cause is a cervical rib. This is a rare condition where an extra rib grows from the neck. This presses down on the nerves and blood vessels causing pain.

Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you to help make a diagnosis. They will ask questions about your medical history and the types of pain you've been having. In TOS, it's often easier to rule out other neurological conditions first. They may order:

Pain relief and physiotherapy can be an effective cure for TOS. However, if your symptoms do not get better, your consultant may advise surgery.

Thoracic decompression surgery treats TOS. Here, your surgeon makes an incision in your neck, parting the muscles and removing the compression of the brachial plexus (the five main nerves that supply the whole of the upper limb). If a cervical rib is compressing the nerves, it will also be removed.

Our Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.