Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: How Massage Can Help

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


A large cluster of nerves and blood vessels that supply the arm travel from the neck and through a few narrow channels down through the shoulder and into the arm and hand. These channels can sometimes become even more narrow, resulting in compression of those nerves and blood vessels. This can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild tingling and numbness to poor circulation throughout the arm and into the hand and fingers. This is what’s known as Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).

There are two primary types of compression:

  1. Costoclavicular is the result of the space between the collar bone and first rib becoming narrower.
  2. Compression by the scalenes, 3 small muscles within the side of the neck, can occur as tension builds in the area.

While Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be caused by sudden trauma, it’s more often caused by repetitive actions and postures. Those who have jobs or habits that require movement of the arm up and forward over and over again are more likely to develop TOS, experiencing the telltale symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, swelling, and coldness in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. Treatments vary depending on the area and intensity. Most patients will be prescribed physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases where these less invasive treatments aren’t successful or severe damage is imminent, surgery may be necessary to take the pressure off the nerves and blood vessels.

Massage therapy is an excellent addition to most treatment plans for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The compression caused by the scalenes can be decreased by relieving those muscles of tension through direct massage of the upper shoulders, neck, upper chest, and jaw. If the compression is costoclavicular, massage can often help to increase the space between the collar bone and the first rib. Along with stretching and some strategic mobilizations, mild cases of TOS can often be handled well by a knowledgeable massage therapist. You may also notice that we’ll massage throughout the entire neck, shoulders, back, and arms in order to alleviate any associated tension, decrease problematic holding patterns, and otherwise treat contributing issues within those areas.

It’s important to remember to communicate throughout the session. We’ll need to know if certain movements or pressure in specific areas either relieves your symptoms or makes them worse as we go. That information is how we make adjustments for your comfort (we don’t want you to be in pain during treatment), and it also provides important clues as to how to best treat your specific type of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TOS, or already have a diagnosis, ask your doctor if massage therapy might be a beneficial addition to your treatment plan.

Leave a Comment

I have been receiving massage and cupping services from Kerryann since June 2022. I originally started seeing Kerryann because I am a runner and was training for a marathon, so I required regular massage therapy. Her work is spectacular. Unlike other massage therapists I have visited, she actually listens to you when you mention a specific area feels off. She is helpful in identifying whats going on and designs your session specifically to help you feel better. In the lead up to my marathon, she was able to fit me in for a quick cupping session to tune-up my body before I departed for my race. I beat my personal record by 40 minutes, and I truly believe Kerryann’s help over the course of my training helped me achieve that. I will continue to be a client of Kerryann’s for as long as she’s in this business! Thank you Kerryann for everything that you do!
Best massage that I’ve ever received.

It was my first time going to see Kerryann and I must say from I entered the room it was peaceful serene calm ,I even enjoyed her soft relaxing music selection..

But I loved every bit of my massage Kerryann has gifted hands and I definitely will be going back the time can’t come soon enough.!!
Thank you kerryann for my services today you rock wishing all the success and you got a client for life …

My massage by Kerry-Ann was wonderful. Very therapeutic and healing. I would recommend her, she knew where to put pressure and what advice to give. Thank again Kerry-Ann.
Logistics: Enter the building, head through the brown door in the back left of the first room, go down the stairs, and find Suite B4. No need to check in with the person working at the front of the building.

Wow. Kerryann is amazing, and so strong! I left feeling like a puddle – and like I really needed a massage. After the massage, Kerryann gave me a stretching exercise to do to reduce the tension between my shoulder blades. She played lo-fi beats. The pressure was great.

Highly recommended!

Kerriane is a great massage therapist. She asks the right questions and she knows the right answers to help her clients. My husband & I are so happy she can now come to our home for our massages.

Kerryann provided a great massage service. Helped ease my neck, shoulders and back from pain due to bad posture. Will be coming back!

She hit all the spots on and applied good pressure as needed, a professional.
I went to Naturally Zuri Massage for a cupping session. I walked away with such an experience. She checked in with me to make sure that pressure of the cups was bareable but effective. I’ve had cupping done on me before but she had a different flow and energy to it. I will admit the pain that I had before going to her had reduced and didn’t flare up for about a week.
Had a cupping session with Kerryann and it was a phenomenal experience. She focused on the right areas. I left the session feeling great and felt even better the following day!
The best massage I’ve ever had. I definitely felt the care effort put into my massage. Kerryann was very attentive to my problem areas and took the necessary steps to treat those areas. I absolutely love their heated massage table, the leg pillows and shoulder pillows. I was extremely comfortable, and felt renewed when I left. I will be signing up for the membership. I will also recommend this place to everyone I know.