There doesn't seem to be a permanent fix to Thoracic outlet syndrome unless you have a removable tumor?

by Shay
(Colorado )

Get into new foods like making your own hummus or baba ghannouj.

Get into new foods like making your own hummus or baba ghannouj.

There doesn't seem to be a permanent fix to Thoracic outlet syndrome unless you have a removable tumor? That's true, but it applies equally to virtually all medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and hypothyroidism; they all need maintenance care. The alternative is a serious upgrade in diet and exercise program.

I found your site very interesting. And possibly helpful. I've been coping with back and joint pains off and on. Which is why I just cope or deal with whatever the pain of the day is.

I initially started off with lower back pain and spasms. Probably a result of falling or heaving bags. I eventually started experiencing carpel tunnel type pain, but early on it was rare and I knew I typed a lot. Shortly after that have gradually started having pain in my shoulder and back. Depending on your job assignment and school work load I've ranged from typing all day to moving heavy property and bags around a warehouse and up on shelves. The more taxing points were loading gear and luggage on and off aircraft. Or worse, just carrying my own duffle bags. At these times I often wrote the pains off. I was diagnosed with potentially having thoracic outlet syndrome and or something else.

But inbetween different deployments, duty assignments and unspecialized military doctors with "negative" results on MRI scans and X-rays, I never took time or got momentum on any therapy or progress. Now my back feels raw and tired and tender all the time. Wearing a basic bra is unbearable sometimes. I've gone from dull and sharp pains up and down my shoulder neck back, to having the "frozen shoulder" and neck and face and ears and arm all the time.

I'm constantly digging and massaging my arm muscles. But because I've always been "arthritic" I assumed it's because I agitated my neck so much that it was simply my joints wearing away. And it's probably true. The older I get the easier it is for me to now echo that it's old age, but I'm 36 and this has been my life since my early 20's. I'm not 120lbs anymore but I've remained pretty fit, for the most part. I could be stronger but At 5'6 and 135ish lbs with a decent fitness routine, I'm ok. Yet, I can't remember the last period of time I slept without a heating pad. My right breast/chest has a dull to noticeable sensation, deeper in my chest, through my back at times.

This year I started sleeping with a heating pad on my FACE and side of my neck. I am seriously getting concerned about the quality of life I'm facing with the increasing and spreading pains, specifically, if I actually have the thoracic outlet syndrome. I don't want to sleep with a heating on my face for the rest of my life.

Hello Shay,
There's no easy solution but you certainly make it sound like you're on the slippery slope at 36, and ready to ring in some changes.

The first that I'd put to you is a mind shift. Pain is actually your friend; it's telling you something is wrong, and writing it off is akin to ignoring the firealarm. I think you're ready to do that; analgesics and hotpacks for the rest of your life isn't such a pretty prospect.

Just as important, this inflammation in your joints and muscles is almost certainly also happening in your organs and blood vessels.

So where do you start. Firstly, on top of your "decent fitness routine" how about starting some specific exercises for your lower back, neck and shoulders? Simple, easy stuff that's not going to injure you and make things worse, but done every single day. We're talking about an extra 5 to 10 minutes every day.

Secondly, if "you've always been arthritic" then you're probably on the great American inflammatory diet; would you be willing to ring in some small changes? There are a thousand things I could suggest, but I'll make a few simple suggestions.
1. Change to olive oil.
2. Make sure you are having at least five, and preferably eight to ten coloured foods every day. That means salad and fruit. Start wherever it fancies you, but I'd suggest prunes for breakfast, an apple a day, and a mixed green salad (preferably with homemade hummus, olive oil and lemon juice) and veggies like winter squash and beets on a regular basis.
3. Eat omega-3 rich foods on a daily basis; that means fatty fish like salmon, freshly ground flaxseeds (get a little cheap coffee grinder), genuine free range eggs, if you can find them, and freshly cracked walnuts or pecans.

And thirdly, what role might chiropractic have? All I can tell you is that I treat folk with these sorts of problems on a daily basis. There are chiros who'll try to get you locked into a program that'll mean mortgaging your house, but I would recommend a course of say ten treatments, and then a consultation every month. Neither your chiro nor anyone else is going to "cure" you. Your body is calling for maintenance care. Most of that you'll be doing yourself.

The exercises and dietary changes cost some time. The chiro will cost you some genuine money. The alternative is a heating pad on your face for the rest of your life, increasing pain and stiffness and worse stuff that's too ghastly to contemplate.

Are you ready for the mind shift and step up to better health? It's called "I want to live long in the land without pain and pills." Others call it the desire to sit under the trees they once planted and watch the grandchildren grow up. I call it the green journey.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Chiropractic help Questions (Neck pain).

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.