Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition in which the nerves or
vessels behind the collarbone (clavicle) become compressed or stretched. Arm
pain, weakness, or numbness often result.
The arm pain can be similar to angina, which is the pain that is
linked with a heart attack. Although angina consists mostly of chest pain,
it may start in or spread to the arms.
Symptoms typically occur with lifting the arms to shoulder level or
other positions that put pressure on the nerves and vessels behind the collarbone. Treatment includes stretching and strengthening exercises as well as
avoiding activities that cause symptoms. In rare cases, surgery is needed to
relieve the nerve compression.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD