Why Athletes are More at Risk for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

  • Why Athletes are More at Risk for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

“TOS most frequently occurs in relatively young, active and otherwise healthy individuals, particularly those engaged in heavy lifting or repetitive overhead use of their arms,” said Dr. Parth Shah, director of the Thoracic Outlet Center in the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute, the only one of its kind in the state.

Basketball players and other athletes performing repetitive overhead arm movements – swimmers, and tennis, baseball, softball and volleyball players – are at increased risk for the neurogenic type of TOS in which the network of nerves sending signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand are compressed and stop functioning properly.

Read more from Hartford HealthCare.

Well-written introduction to thoracic outlet syndrome

Dr. Shah, who I do not yet know, and his staff have written a wonderful introduction to thoracic outlet syndrome. Most authorities find it difficult to lay out the basics of TOS for lay-people. However, Dr. Shah starts with an example, an elite professional basketball player, and then broadens the discussion to show the risk to young healthy people using their arms overhead for work or sport.

The discussion of anatomy and pathology is brief but focused. More detailed discussion of diagnosis and treatment is pertinent and easy to understand. Importantly, Dr. Shah, who is a surgeon, emphasizes the importance of conservative treatment before surgery is undertaken.

Besides the detail about the disease, I applaud Dr. Shah and Hartford HealthCare for helping to grow awareness of this important disease.

Furthermore, the establishment of a multidisciplinary approach utilizing multiple specialists is a welcome revelation to me. I plan to reach out to Dr. Shah to learn more about his approach and his organization. If you have TOS, or suspect you have TOS, and live in Connecticut, it might be well worth your while to do the same.

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