Artwork for podcast Back Talk Doc
All About the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Episode 176th July 2020 • Back Talk Doc • Sanjiv Lakhia - Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates
00:00:00 00:41:27

Share Episode


Besides cases of lower back pain, another common problem that most people face is neck pain. In severe instances, the pain shoots from the neck to the arm, which can lead to numbness and immobility. One condition that is often difficult to diagnose is the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).

In this episode of Back Talk Doc, Dr. Sanjiv Lakhia is joined by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates’ nurse practitioner Emily Tucker and physical therapist Jay Murugavel in this roundtable discussion on TOS. Drawing from his expertise, Jay dives into what the thoracic outlet is and what causes pain in this particular spinal region. He talks about the various occupational risk factors connected to this condition, including certain sports like baseball and swimming, and working for long periods in awkward positions. You should also look out for things such as predisposing injury and congenital anomalies that can exacerbate

Treatment options such as surgery and physical therapy were also described, which are going to vary depending on the assessment of the patient’s clinical state. The goal is to minimize stiffness in the muscles and promote joint mobility. Breathing patterns also play a huge role in recovery and Jay encourages regular diaphragmatic breathing.

Emily provides valuable insight as well by sharing her personal experience with TOS, from diagnosis to treatment, and how she continues to manage her pain. She highlights the importance of listening to your body and your physicians and being compliant with the treatment plan devised by your medical team. 

Key Moments in the Episode

Emily's experience with thoracic outlet syndrome 03:47

Consulting with a specialist 08:40

Course of treatment 11:16

What is the thoracic outlet 13:56

Occupational risk factors 15:11

Anatomical structures that lead to TOS 17:21

Difference between cervical radiculopathy and TOS 20:10

How to approach patients seeking treatment for TOS 24:02

Influence of breathing patterns on TOS 28:41

Activities to promote better posture 32:41

Looking beyond the spine to better diagnose and treat TOS 35:01

Jay and Emily’s health tips 37:40

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Top 5 Non-Disc Causes of Low Back Pain and Sciatica

Back Talk Doc is brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, with offices in North and South Carolina. To learn more about Dr. Lakhia and treatment options for back and spine issues, go to To schedule an appointment with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, you can call us at 1-800-344-6716 or visit our website at