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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Test

Do you have pain between your neck & hand?

Do you feel numbness, tingling, weakness or coldness in your fingers?

The most common conditions responsible are carpal tunnel syndrome & thoracic outlet syndrome. 

 

Thoracic outlet syndrome affects about 1 in 50 people. And it's easy for patients and doctors to confuse these two conditions. But it's necessary to know which condition you have so you can begin treatment.

If you already used the Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis Tool, then take this Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Test.

5 tests for thoracic outlet syndrome (you will need a partner's help).

Test 1: Elevated Arm Stress Test

 

You can stand or be seated. Raise both arms with your elbows positioned a little behind your head. Slowly open and close your hands for 3 minutes. 


Positive sign for thoracic outlet syndrome: heaviness, pain or intense numbness or weakness in your arms; tingling or pins-and-needles in your hand.

 

 

Test 2: Adson (or Scalene Maneuver)

Stand up for this. Your helper finds your radial pulse. It's felt below your wrist on the thumb side. While your helper is monitoring your pulse, drop your arm to a 45 degree angle. Then rotate your head toward the tested arm. At the same time, tilt your head backwards to extend your neck while the helper extends and holds your arm.

 

Positive sign for thoracic outlet syndrome: disappearance of your radial pulse.

 

 


Test 3: Costo-clavicular Maneuver

Sit down. Your helper locates your radial pulse again. Then the helper pushes your shoulder down and pulls your arm back a little as you lift your chest in an exaggerated “at attention” posture.

 

Positive sign for thoracic outlet syndrome: absence of your radial pulse.

(This test is usually positive if you have symptoms while wearing a heavy jacket or back-pack.)

 

Test 4: Allen Test

While you’re seated, the helper locates your radial pulse again. The helper flexes your elbow to 90 degrees while your upper arm is extended horizontally and rotated backward. Then turn your head away from the tested arm.

 

Positive sign for thoracic outlet syndrome: if your radial pulse disappears as you rotate your head.

 

Test 5: Provocative Elevation Test

Stay seated and cross your arms. Your helper grasps both arms by the elbows. Remain passive and let the helper fully elevate both shoulders in a forward position. Hold this position for 60 seconds. 

 

(This will normally increase your pulse and your hand temperature.)

Positive sign for thoracic outlet syndrome: feelings go from numbness to pins-and-needles or tingling, or you feel some pain; it also might feel like when your arm “falls asleep” and circulation returns.

Now what?

If you had one or more positive signs it could mean you have thoracic outlet syndrome.

 

Treat it with specific physical therapy and stretching exercises. In most cases these remedies will give you good results and relieve symptoms.