4 thoracic outlet syndrome exercises from PT that you can also use at home

July 30, 2022

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a nerve-related condition that occurs when the nerves or blood vessels just below your neck are compressed, or squeezed. Compression can happen between the muscles of your neck and shoulder, and sometimes between your collarbone and your ribs. This causes you to feel pain in your shoulder, arm, and neck, as well as tingling and numbness in your arms, hands, and fingers. Swelling and fatigue are also symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome.

Even though many people have never heard of it, thoracic outlet syndrome is fairly common. It is most often caused by repetitive stress, injury and poor posture that puts too much pressure on the nerves. Women who are pregnant are also at risk of developing the condition due to the sudden extra weight on their joints. Thankfully, it’s a problem that usually doesn’t require surgery to correct. Experts suggest physical therapy as an effective treatment for most cases of thoracic outlet syndrome.

However, you may not have time to visit your physical therapist right away. In that case, physical therapists recommend simple exercises that you can do at home to ease the pain from thoracic outlet syndrome.

What are some exercises that can help with thoracic outlet syndrome?

Here are four exercises recommended by experts in physical therapy to help relieve the pain from thoracic outlet syndrome:

  1. Pectoral stretches — Place your palm on the wall with your arm outstretched horizontally. Make sure you are forming a 90-degree angle with your arm and torso. Keeping your hand against the wall, twist your torso away from your hand until you feel a stretch in the pectoral muscle. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  1. Chest stretches — Stand in an open doorway, placing one foot in front of the other with your arms on each side against the wall. Move your torso forward to feel a stretch in your chest. You may feel a pop in your upper back during this exercise. While stretching, gently move your torso side to side and in a circular movement to accentuate the stretch.
  1. Median nerve glides — Stand with your affected arm out to your side, with your palm facing forward and fingers straight. Your arm should be at a 90-degree angle to your torso. Bend your head toward your opposite shoulder while flexing your affected wrist forward with the fingers straight. Then, bend your head back toward the other shoulder while moving your wrist into extension with your fingers straight out. Slowly alternate between these two positions.
  1. Side bend stretches — Lift one arm and bring it up and over your head. Sit straight up and place the palm of your hand on your head. Gently pull your head down toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Hold this position for 10 seconds before releasing.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for your thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and who can help you address your thoracic outlet syndrome. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.