Common Symptoms of Compressed Thoracic Spinal Nerves

Elderly patient with Geriatric

At Posture Works, we take great care in educating our San Francisco, CA and Denver, CO patients not only on the nature of their specific condition, but also on the anatomy of the spine and the central nervous system. We find that this education helps improve general understanding of spine health, as well as helps patients take steps to manage serious chronic issues like thoracic outlet syndrome.

A basic education of thoracic outlet syndrome

The 24 bones that comprise the human spine are broken up into three distinctive regions: lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. The thoracic region of the spinal column is the largest – comprising 12 of the 24 bones. The thoracic spine roughly begins at the base of the neck and ends at the top of the lumbar (lower) back.

The thoracic spine provides vital support to the rest of the body. In fact, each vertebrate in the thoracic spine connects to a rib. When nerves and blood vessels in the thoracic spine become compressed, however, it can result in an exceptionally painful and occasionally debilitating condition called thoracic outlet syndrome.

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when blood vessels or nerves are compressed, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Accidents, workplace stress and other trauma can cause thoracic outlet syndrome. It may also be the result of genetics or physical abnormalities.

Symptoms of thoracic nerve compression

Thoracic nerve compression or thoracic causes a number of painful symptoms, some of which can pose long-term health risks. It’s important to note that the symptoms caused by thoracic nerve compression always differ, depending on which nerve is compressed. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Muscle wasting: If the muscle at the fleshy base of your thumb is wasting away, it could be a sign of thoracic outlet syndrome. If you notice that the muscles in your hand are becoming weaker, consider reaching out for medical assistance as soon as possible.
  • Numbness and tingling: Numbness and tingling in the fingertips and hands is often a sign of a pinched nerve, likely in the thoracic area.
  • Pains: Depending on where the nerve is compressed, pain caused by thoracic outlet syndrome can vary greatly in the ways and places it manifests. If you’re experiencing consistent pain anywhere, however, you should always seek medical attention.
  • Weakening grip: If you’re struggling to hold on to things, it may be a sign of thoracic nerve compression.

Causes and risk factors of the compressed nerves

There are a number of causes to thoracic outlet syndrome. Accurately diagnosing the cause of your nerve compression will allow you to determine and pursue the best possible course of treatment. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Repetitive activity: Work-related activity, like typing on a computer, stocking shelves and other similar motions can cause you to develop thoracic nerve compression over time.
  • Poor posture: If you regularly crane your neck toward a computer screen, you’re at-risk of suffering from thoracic nerve compression. Drooped shoulders can also contribute to pinched nerves and vessels.
  • Pregnancy: When pregnant, you may compensate for the extra weight in your stomach by craning your head either forward or backward. This can cause you to develop painful nerve compressions in the thoracic area.
  • Trauma: Car accidents and sports injuries are another extremely common source of thoracic nerve compression.

Posture Works is a comprehensive chiropractic practice operating in Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA. If you’re suffering from thoracic nerve compression, reach out to one of our knowledgeable healthcare professionals today to learn about potential treatment options. We’ll be happy to educate you on your condition, as well as the Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach we take to deliver personalized care.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.