Natural treatment & home remedies for thoracic outlet syndrome

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This term is used to describe the related syndromes that are caused by the nerve compression in the upper body, especially the nerves in the arms, shoulders, chest and neck. The thoracic outlet syndrome is brought about by abnormal compression of the thoracic outlet and muscles in the cervical spine and lower axilla. This is a common reason why people have numbness and tingling down either one or both of their arms/hands. There are three different types of thoracic outlet syndrome – Arterial TOS, Venous TOS and Neurogenic TOS.

The symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome can be very similar to the symptoms caused by Raynaud’s syndrome. The most common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome are paleness in the palms or fingers of one or both hands or changes in the color of the arms, such as noticing blue or red patches; weakness in the neck, arms, shoulders and hands; feeling numbness, tingling and/or “pins and needles” in the arms and hands; tenderness in the supraclavicular area. Many doctors agree that thoracic outlet syndrome is tied to compression of the brachial plexus or subclavian vessels which run down the neck to the armpits and arms. [1]

If you suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome, then you need to talk with your doctor before you start using some of the below mentioned home remedies so in this way you will avoid side effects.

Home remedies for thoracic outlet syndrome

Home remedies for thoracic outlet syndrome

Reduce inflammation: It is very important to quit smoking and also, you should avoid drinking too much alcohol. It is known that both factors can increase the inflammation levels in your body [2]. You should remove inflammatory foods from your diet, such as alcohol, caffeine, artificial ingredients and chemicals, refined carbohydrates, processed oils and added sugar. You should eat anti – inflammatory foods, like fresh vegetables and spices and herbs; good quality organic meats; nuts and seeds; wild – caught salmon and bone broth; berries and green leafy vegetables. You should avoid very hot or cold temperatures because they can worsen your symptoms, like tingling and color changes in your hands.

Give yourself enough recovery time: It is very important to exercise because it will help in many different ways. But if you over-train, then it can lead to thoracic outlet syndrome, especially if you exercise with poor form and you do not leave enough time between workouts for your muscles and joints to heal. You should take breaks from repetitive exercises or movements which are contributing to your symptoms.

You should give yourself two days between tough workouts to properly recover. You should focus on different muscle groups each workout so in this way you will rotate your body parts and it is effective way for recovering of your body. Also, you can do foam rolling or using a spikey ball because it will help to keep muscles loose. Also, you can visit a chiropractor, work with a physical therapist or go to massage therapy because they can help you if you struggle with poor form, have reduced range of motion and lots of tightness.

Manage stress: It is known that the stress can worsen thoracic outlet syndrome which will increase the tension and tightness. Physical or emotional stress can cause vasoconstriction which is further negatively impacting blood flow. You should try stress relievers like taking walks outside; practicing yoga; or taking time to do meditation or devotional prayer each day. If you are having constant emotional stress, then you can join a support group or go to cognitive behavioral therapy.

Also, acupuncture can help to reduce stress and its related symptoms, like joint stiffness, inflammation and pain. You can use calming essential oils, like chamomile oil, ylang ylang and lavender essential oils. You can try mind – body practices, like deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, reiki, meditation, spinal manipulation and other relaxation techniques.

Chest stretch: You should sit in a sturdy chair next to a table. You should place your arms on the table straight in front of you. You should lean forward bending at the waist as far as possible while you extend your head and chest forward.

Shoulder stretch: You should stand with your back to a table and wrap your arms backwards to try and grasp the edge of the table with your fingers. When you are facing forward, then you should bend your knees and allow your elbows to bend.

Ice: You can apply ice to the shoulder, arm or chest because it can help to reduce the pain and swelling that are caused by thoracic outlet syndrome. [3]

Antioxidant foods: You should eat more antioxidant fruits and vegetables because they can help to manage your pain. They can help to fight against free radicals and reduce inflammation. Some of the best antioxidant fruits which you should add in your diet are strawberries; rhubarb; grapes (dark colored varieties: purple, black and red); cranberries; citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons); cherries; cantaloupe; boysenberries; blueberries; blackberries; apricots and apples. Some of the best antioxidant vegetables are winter squash (acorn squash, butternut squash, etc.); turnip greens; sweet potatoes; spinach; potatoes; onions; mustard greens; leeks; kale; hot peppers (jalapenos and other varieties); green peppers (also yellow and red varieties); eggplant; carrots; Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Ginger: This natural cure has anti – inflammatory properties which can help to soothe the upset stomach [4]. If you are taking blood thinners, then talk with your doctor before you start using it in your diet. You should talk with your doctor if it is effective as your home remedy for thoracic outlet syndrome.

Pectoralis stretch: You should stand in an open doorway and lift your hands above your head to reach near the door frame. You should slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders.

Rowing exercise: You should wrap an exercise band or tube around an immovable object. You should hold the end of the band in each hand. You should sit in a chair, bend your arms 90 degrees and then pull backward on the band as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should try to complete two sets of 15.

Omega – 3 fatty acids: It is known that Omega – 3 fatty acids can help to manage pain by reducing the inflammation, suppress the production of cytokines and enzymes which can attack your joints and improve the circulation. Also, they can reduce the anxiety. Some foods rich in Omega – 3 fatty acids are flax (flaxseed oil, flour or seeds of flaxseed); eggs; soybeans; some types of seaweed (used a lot in Japanese cooking and sushi); walnuts; flaxseeds; trout; anchovies; sardines; mackerel; herring and salmon. Talk with your doctor about the best recommended amount of Omega – 3 fatty acids for your thoracic outlet syndrome. [5]

Fix your work setup: If you are spending a lot of time sitting at a desk working each day, then you should adjust your workstation to avoid sitting with poor posture and hunching over all day. This is very important because the poor posture can cause problems relating to the inadequate blood supply to the arms over long periods. You should use a standing desk because it can help to avoid sitting all day and it can prevent hunching over.

You should set your desk and computer so your chin or mouth is parallel to the ground and your eyes are looking at the top third of the screen. You should keep your arms relaxed so your wrists are a natural extension of the forearms and your mouse is at the same level as the keys or below. You should not lean your neck and head forward. Your head should be at or behind your hip joint. Your torso should be reclined a bit at an angle of 91 – 112 degrees. Your knees be bent and roughly in line with your hips. Your knees should not be more than 3 inches above or below your hip joints.

Back of neck stretch: While you are sitting or standing, you should interlace your fingers behind your head. You should gently lean your head back with support from your hands as you lift your chest and then reverse and tuck your chin to your chest. You should move slowly and back and forth while you breathe.

Side of neck stretch: You should sit down in a chair and place your affected hand behind your head. You should turn your head away from the tight side and look down until a slight stretch is felt. You should take a deep breath and exhale slowly while holding.

References:

[1] Citisli V. Assessment of diagnosis and treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome, An important reason of pain in upper extremity, based on literature. Journal of Pain Relief. 2015;4:173.

[2] Roseman C, Truedsson L, Kapetanovic MC. The effect of smoking and alcohol consumption on markers of systemic inflammation, immunoglobulin levels and immune response following pneumococcal vaccination in patients with arthritis. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2012;14(4):R170.

[3] van den Bekerom MPJ, Struijs PAA, Blankevoort L. What is the evidence for rest, ice, compression, and elevation therapy in the treatment of ankle sprains in adults? Journal of Athletic Training. 2012;47(4):435–43.

[4] Bodagh MN, Maleki I, Hekmatdoost A. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food Science & Nutrition. 2019;7(1):96–108.

[5] Rajaei E, Mowla K, Ghorbani A. The effect of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis receiving DMARDs therapy: Double-blind randomized controlled trial. Global Journal of Health Science. 2016;8(7):18–25.

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