Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is common among workers and athletes who use a lot of repetitive upper arm movements, such as baseball pitchers. A recent study suggests that decompression surgery could be a safe treatment for it.

TOS occurs in a particular area of the neck/shoulder where all the nerves in the arm, collarbone, and hemi-diaphragm pass through. In athletes, for example, the build-up of muscle tissue and the repetitive motion are likely contributors.

In many cases, medication and physical therapy can relieve the pressure. However, in other cases, vascular surgery may be considered, according to a media release from the Society for Vascular Surgery.

A study scheduled to be published soon in the Journal of Vascular Surgery reports the findings from a study in which researchers reviewed the results of 1,431 vascular surgeries for TOS. The study suggests that side effects such as permanent nerve damage occurred in only 0.3% of the patients, and that only 1.4% of the patients experienced excessive bleeding requiring transfusion.

“This study confirms the very low rate of nerve injury,” says the study’s lead author Dr Elena Rinehardt, in the release, “and risk of a major bleeding event also is quite low.”

[Source(s): Society for Vascular Surgery, PR Newswire]