Question:

In 1997 at the age of 17, I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a severe case (I could not move my LEFT arm without assistance, and was experiencing dehabilitating blood circulation through the entire extremity). My symptoms were originally thought to be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Within four to five months of noticing minor symptoms, I went from a wrist brace to an arm sling and restricted movement and then first front and back left rib removal. I was informed after surgery that I more than likely had permanent nerve damage. Evidence of this is severe, unpredictable swelling, I can only sweat on the right side of my face down to my shoulders, muscle spasms, the inability to hold items for a prolonged period of time, etc. In addition, I developed arthritis in the left upper arm and portions of my neck and spine. Fast forward 13 years and I am now 31 years old. I learned in the last 7 years from a chiropractor that the 11 - 13 clips remaining on the left side are helping to constrict my range of motion. In the last two years I have developed TMJ (severe enough to crack two teeth within one month and crack a custom nightguard), and suffer from horrible migraines and frequent nosebleeds. In the last two weeks, I have experienced sporadic bouts of tingling, numbness and coldness to the tips of my fingers in my RIGHT hand. For the last three days, the tips of my fingers have not returned to normal body temperature. In the last 24 hours, the ring, middle and index trio have not regained sensation. The middle finger holds the most prominent in symptoms. None of the symptoms or pain have extended to the palm or wrist at this time. Is it possible for my TOS to reoccur 13 years later and have an effect on the opposite extremity? If not, what is the plausibility of TOS developing on the opposite side and taking command as it did on the LEFT side over a decade earlier? Thank you for your time and attention.

Answer:

To develop TOS in your other arm is definitely likely – there are a fair number of people who suffer with the problem on both sides and in some it develops on the other side after years. I do not know where you live in South Africa but you should see a good thoracic specialist to confirm the diagnosis before any decisions are made about your further treatment.

I do not agree with the opinion that the clips can restrict your motion- they are vascular clips which are placed around arteries and veins to stop bleeding during the operation and are far away from the shoulder joint and cannot affect the motion of the joint. You should also see a shoulder speicialist to diagnose the reason for your residual shoulder problems.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

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