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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Lawyer

thoracic outlet syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a constellation of symptoms in the upper extremity and shoulder area that may result in tingling, pain, and numbness. This type of medical condition may manifest when built-up pressure in the thoracic outlet may impinge nerves or vessels. Identification of TOS is challenging and often requires comprehensive clinical testing and examination for diagnosis. When a patient is presenting with pain in the upper extremity and shoulder, a physician needs to consider the pathology of TOS to aid in the differential diagnosis. This way, the patient receives the prompt therapeutic intervention they need.

A common cause of thoracic outlet syndrome is trauma from an accident. If you suffered TOS in a crash caused by another party or entity, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact our personal injury attorneys in Sacramento for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

When you select us to represent you, we will put our resources and decades of experience to work for you and your case. We will work diligently on your behalf until your claim has reached a resolution, whether that be in insurance negotiations or in civil court. Contact us today to go over the details of your case with one of our personal injury lawyers and learn how to move forward in your situation with confidence.

Anatomy of the Thoracic Outlet

The space from the axilla to the supraclavicular fossa is comprised of the thoracic outlet. This region is made up of the subclavian vein, the subclavian artery, and the brachial plexus.

Thoracic outlet syndrome may present symptoms by compressing the axillary artery and vein, subclavian artery and vein, and brachial plexus nerves. The vasculature areas are within the subcoracoid space, costoclavicular space, and interscalene triangle.

Epidemiology of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome is the most prevalent of the variants of TOS that exist. This type of medical condition is more common in female patients and those with poor posture, poor muscle development, or both.

Because of the nondescript and vague way in which TOS presents symptoms, it may be challenging to determine the prevalence of this condition. Several studies have reported an incidence of TOS in three to 80 of 1000 cases.

What are the Types of TOS?

Following is a list of the types of thoracic outlet syndrome:

  • Arterial: This condition may occur with arterial compression and present in one percent of TOS cases.
  • Neurogenic: This condition is present in more than 90 percent of TOS cases and involves the compression of the nerves in the brachial plexus.
  • Venous: This condition may occur when upper body thrombosis results from vein compression and is found to be reported in five percent of TOS cases.

Arterial and venous syndromes are often referred to as vascular TOS.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of TOS?

Following is a list of the most common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome:

  • Blood clots in the arteries or veins in the upper region of the body
  • Cold arms, hands, or fingers
  • Cyanosis (bluish color of the mucous membrane or skin) in the hand
  • Fatigue in the arm that may worsen with activity
  • No pulse or weak pulse in the affected arm
  • Pallor (lack of color) in the entire hand or one or more fingers
  • Pulsating sensation from a lump near the collarbone
  • Swelling or pain in the arm that may be connected to blood clots
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers
  • Weakness of the neck or arm
How is TOS Diagnosed?

An alternative disorder with a similar presentation may further complicate the diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome. This may include nerve compression at the wrist, elbow, or cervical spine, involving the ulnar and median nerve. Such a medical condition may accompany TOS. Conversely, double crush syndrome may mask the manifestation of TOS. In all cases, early diagnosis and treatment are key to this medical condition.

How is TOS Treated?

It is essential to speak with a physician regarding the potential side effects, risks, and benefits of treatment options available to you. Treatment of TOS may include:

  • Physical Therapy: The first treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome is generally physical therapy. It may help increase the range of motion of the shoulders and neck, promote better posture, and strengthen muscles. After undergoing rehabilitation, most patients have reported an improvement in symptoms they experienced.
  • Medications: A physician may recommend over-the-counter medications for pain relief, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. For additional pain relief, a health care provider may also suggest a muscle relaxant.
  • Surgical Intervention: Surgery is reserved for patients whose symptoms have not been relieved through physical therapy or other types of treatments. However, a patient presenting with arterial TOS may often require surgical intervention. Patients may be given thrombolytic medications before surgical treatment to dissolve blood clots if needed. A physician may perform surgery by removing the first rib to allow more room for the nerves and vessels. Surgical treatment may also be necessary for repairing any issues in the structure of the artery.
What are the Surgical Risks?

As with any surgery, there are possible risks, particularly with decompression surgery. One of which may include the failure to respond to surgical intervention. Complications are rare but have been found to occur in approximately two to three percent of TOS cases. These include lymphatic fluid leakage, collapsed lung (pneumothorax), bleeding, and nerve damage.

Can a Car Accident Cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

According to a report by the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 4.8 million people suffered serious injuries in roadway accidents in 2020. This accounted for roughly $474 billion in damages to society. Some of the traumatic injuries that may have accompanied these crashes include TOS and thoracic aortic aneurysm.

This type of injury may be suffered in a rear-end collision where the weight and speed of the first vehicle striking the other causes hyperextension of the neck. This may cause the scalenus muscles to stretch and bleed. Hypertrophy and shortening of the muscles may also occur.

Can You Seek Compensation for an Injury from an Accident?

If you have been badly hurt in an accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. This may be done through a personal injury claim filed against the at-fault party and their insurance company. Damages may include past and future medical expenses, lost income, loss of future earning potential, lost enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

When an insurer is involved in a bodily injury claim, they may use various defense tactics to decrease the amount paid to you. In other situations, the insurance carrier may outright deny your bodily injury claim. Some of how this may be done are through unfairly assigning fault to you in a motor vehicle collision, asking for recorded statements that may be used as evidence against you, and downplaying the severity of thoracic outlet syndrome, particularly if you have missed doctor’s appointments or allowed gaps in treatment.

An experienced attorney handling cases like yours can help you overcome these tactics and work to ensure you are fairly compensated for your traumatic injury. Unlike the insurance carrier, legal counsel will have your best interests at heart and will fight to obtain a favorable case outcome for you. If you are unsure of what to look for in the best attorney in your area to handle your claim, watch this video.

Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

As you may imagine, the insurance company representing the other party may go through the medical history released for the claim and look for any possible evidence of a pre-existing condition. The insurance carrier may use this information to suggest that the accident had little to no effect on you. This is their way of protecting their bottom line. What is most unfortunate is that this very approach may also apply to first-party insurance claims that injured parties may file under their uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM and UIM).

The compensation you may receive for your financial and intangible losses related to the aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition will vary greatly. Comprehensive medical records that establish previous conditions are key in a personal injury case. They may help prove the nature of that condition and how your life was affected by it before the accident. The most important takeaway from a pre-existing medical condition is that no injured party should delay speaking with a lawyer if they were hurt by another party or entity’s negligent actions.

When you discuss your medical history and personal injury case with a thoracic outlet syndrome attorney, it is essential to be transparent with your injury lawyer. The reason is that your attorney, unlike the insurance carrier, will be your voice in negotiations and in the courtroom. Instead of keeping details to yourself, allow legal counsel to determine whether details may complicate your bodily injury claim. Not disclosing a pre-existing injury or condition may not only harm your credibility as a claimant but also impact your case.

Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you suffered thoracic outlet syndrome because of an accident, contact our attorneys today for free, friendly case advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. At our law firm, we work diligently to ensure we obtain the best outcomes possible for our clients. Learn how we can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve by contacting us today.

Photograph Source: By "IvanSamkov" via Pexels

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