Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


PEB Forum Regular Member
I have visited with a Neurologist as part of my MEB Physical. He performed an EMG test on me. He believes that I may be suffering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Has anyone heard of this Syndrome? I have a consult visit soon with Physical Therapy and the Ortho in order to confirm or deny the findings. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a group of distinct disorders producing signs and symptoms attributed to compression of nerves and blood vessels in the thoracic outlet region (clavical area). Clincal signs and symptoms of TOS usually include pain in the neck and shoulder area and numbness and weakness in the arm/hand. Mine is bilateral or in both arms and hands. Epidemiologic studies have shown that TOS may be associated with certain occupations that involve working in a static position for prolonged periods of time as well as jobs involving heavy lifting. Carrying heavy loads, briefcases and shoulder bags can also lead to neurovascular compression. The two groups of people most likely to develop TOS are those suffering neck injuries in motor vehicle accidents and those who use computers in non-ergonomic postures for extended periods of time. Mine is from years of being hunched over various sections of a Blackhawk doing maintenence, lifting and carrying parts that weigh 50lb or more, plus ruck sacks, duffle bags, and body armor. My fall from the top of a Blackhawk and screwing up my neck made the condition much worse than it previously was. I went from being a 2 on numbness to an 8-10 in numbness with pain. It has become very dificult for me to do my job. Physical Therapy may help to lessen the pain and discomfort that it causes, but several articles that I have found state the same thing, if you do not stop doing that which is causing the problem, Physical Therapy will be ineffective. Basically, I should not continue to work on aircraft, wear body armor, carry a ruck or duffle across my shoulders, or work at a computer desk. That pretty much covers everything that a 15T does. I wonder what the MEB will have to say about that.


PEB Forum Regular Member
I have heard of this syndrome, and was almost diagnosed with it as well. I had to have 2 EMGs to rule it out, and it was determined that I have a C8 radiculopathy, not TOS. Cervical issues can mimic TOS very closely, as you have stated some symptoms are neck/shoulder pain and numbness.

I have read so much on it, and I'm sorry to say that you are correct when you say if you do not stop what is aggrevating your condition, it is very difficult for the condition to improve. I have been told that nerves can take a long while to heal when damaged. I hope you can find a treatment that works for you.


PEB Forum Regular Member
I understand all about this I have been dx by the VA with this strange syndrome also. I am also an ex 15T While I was in Iraq I performed Fuel Tests inside Fuel cells. The Va doc dx me back in the spring of 06 I have bilateral intermittent peripheral neuropathy extending from my shoulders all the way to the tips of my fingers. Its horrible you'll be doing something its like my entire arm hand and fingers fall asleep. This has not happened on both arms at the same time yet thank god. It comes and goes seems to go away quicker shaking my arms and hands. This syndrome is qualifying for 100% disabiility in the Social Security realm but its not compensated with VA.


PEB Forum Regular Member
Well, after several visits with Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, both doctors have come to the same conclusion...
I should find another line of work.
It is a good thing the VA has Vocational Rehab Training. Now I just have to figure out what I can physically do with a bad back, bad neck, and moderate carpel tunnel with TOS in both left and right hands and arms.

Also found unfit by the PEB for bad neck and carpel tunnel. The VA has already given me 20% for the neck and 10% for the carpel. So, being in the DES pilot program, I should get at least 30%. They decline my back, but I will be happy with the 30%.
data-matched-content-ui-type="image_stacked" data-matched-content-rows-num="3" data-matched-content-columns-num="1" data-ad-format="autorelaxed">