What is TOS?
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What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?
TOS is an umbrella term that encompasses three related
syndromes that cause pain in the arm, shoulder, and
neck: neurogenic TOS (caused by compression of the
brachial plexus), vascular TOS (caused by compression of
the subclavian artery or vein) and nonspecific or
disputed TOS (in which the pain is from unexplained
causes). Occasionally, neurogenic TOS and vascular TOS
co-exist in the same person. Most doctors agree that
TOS is caused by compression of the brachial plexus or
subclavian vessels as they pass through narrow
passageways leading from the base of the neck to the
armpit and arm, but there is considerable disagreement
about its diagnosis and treatment. Making the diagnosis
of TOS even more difficult is that a number of disorders
feature symptoms similar to those of TOS, including
rotator cuff injuries, cervical disc disorders,
fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, complex regional pain
syndrome, and tumors of the syrinx or spinal cord.
Symptoms of TOS vary depending on the type.