Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Thoracic Outlet Syndrome -- therapy


Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a disorder caused by compression of the brachial nerve plexus or subclavian artery or vein as they pass through a potentially limited space in the anterolateral neck and proximal shoulder. An individual with a predisposition for TOS due to his or her anatomy may have an onset of symptoms due to many different etiologies including acute injury and prolonged postural abnormalities. Although conservative management by physical therapy cannot replace surgery in severe or complicated cases of TOS, it is, nevertheless, the recommended first treatment choice. The purpose of this study was to assess the success of conservative management of TOS by physical therapy and to identify relationships between treatment choices and treatment outcome. A review of 21 physical therapy charts showed improvement in 67% of patients (n=14) and no improvement in 33% of patients (n=7) after conservative treatment. Although the overall treatment outcome was not impressive, certain interesting trends were observed when studying the relationships of specific physical therapy treatment choices and their outcomes. The results of this study suggest that conservative treatment of TOS can be effective but only if approached with a well planned and aggressive treatment regimen including active participation by the patient.