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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Pain Patterns, Causes, Self-Care

This is a collection of posts about Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a group of related symptoms that indicate a restriction in the nerves and blood vessels that supply the arm. Like other syndromes, like Piriformis Syndrome, it is not a clear diagnosis. It’s a condition that may be resolved by addressing one or more of the indicated problems.

Casually, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is often used to refer to any pattern of pain or paraesthesia (abnormal sensations) that into the arm from the torso. It may be used to reference sensations like tingling in the hand or trigger point referral into the upper back, forearm, and hand. Not all of that is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

You may recognize some of these patterns in the collection of patterns that refer into the torso and down the arm. You can also see from this collection that muscles like the subclavius both impair the thoracic outlet and create trigger point referral down the arm. Remember that people usually feel only a portion of the pattern. Also, people usually feel the portion in darkest red but some only complain of the areas in lighter red.

These posts include:

  • Trigger point patterns and how people describe the pain
  • How you activate and intensify the pain pattern
  • Self-care to show you how to get quick relief on your own
  • Stretches and exercises that provide longer-lasting relief
  • Brief anatomy review of the involved muscle
  • Yoga poses that open this muscle
  • Treatment notes for therapists

Note that we are in the process of converting these posts into a more informative and accessible format. Thank you for your patience.




This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

This post is about the watershed moment that changed the direction of my bodywork. People would say that it is about treating at the source. I’d say that it is about understanding the governors and accessories in a pattern. This gives the therapist and client choices on how to plan on treating for relief or treating to create a body that is self-correcting.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

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