The symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome vary between individuals depending on where the pressure is. They also can vary in how intense the symptoms are. Thoracic outlet syndrome usually affects the arm or hand with a combination of:
- Coldness in the upper arm or chest
Symptoms usually only appear on one side of the body.
Causes and Risk Factors
The most common cause of thoracic outlet syndrome is pressure on the nerves or blood vessels that go to the arms. Sometimes this pressure is caused by an extra first rib or an old fracture of the clavicle, which makes the space of the thoracic outlet narrower.
Weak shoulder muscles can cause the collarbone to slip down and forward, putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that lie under it. Poor posture or obesity can also contribute to thoracic outlet syndrome. Pressure may also be caused by repeatedly doing activities that involve raising or holding the arms overhead. Accidents or injuries can cause the syndrome as well. In some cases, it may not be possible to identify what has caused the syndrome.
Slightly more women than men develop thoracic outlet syndrome.