Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

"I have numbness in my left arm to my thumb." 

This type of complaint is often diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or attributed to a cervical intervertebral disc disorder. However, sometimes it's neither.

I had a cool case this week involving arm numbness and I'd like to tell you about it. The numbness had been present for several weeks along with associated tightness and pulling in the left side of the neck and arm. First, we checked out the classic culprits as noted above. Once we ruled out any possible cervical spine causes for her complaints, we started following the nerve pathway (Radial nerve) to find exactly where this nerve was being compressed. This would lead us to the cause of her symptoms.

If you look at the back of the shoulder (think just above the armpit) you'll find the Triangular Interval. The borders are formed by the Teres Major muscle and two portions of the Triceps muscle. The clinical importance of this area is that the Radial nerve runs through this space as it descends the arm on its way to supply sensation to the hand and thumb.

As the muscles forming the Triangular Interval shorten or tighten, they can cause compression of the Radial nerve resulting in pain and/or numbness of the arm and hand. Compressing this area on my patient made her symptoms worsen immediately.

With basic palpation, it was evident that all of the muscles of the Triangular Interval were shortened and tight, compressing the Radial nerve and causing her symptoms. However, using NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) we were able to discover more specifically that the Teres Major muscle was overactive and causing weakness or inhibition of the Triceps muscle. Yes, a short/tight muscle can actually be a "weak" muscle that needs strengthening/activation.

NKT helps us know exactly which muscle to release in order to solve the problem. Releasing all of the muscles of the Triangular Interval would have made the problem worse. That's why we always say, "test, don't guess." Releasing just the overactive Teres Major then activating the inhibited Triceps did the trick.

Do you or anyone you know have this type of complaint? Finding exactly where the nerve is being compressed is the key.



Ohio Mobile Chiropractic provides care for the Westshore communities of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Our office is located in Westlake, Ohio, Cuyahoga County.

Phone: 440-429-8500


Westlake, Oh Chiropractor


Ohio Mobile Chiropractic

1055 Bradley Road Ste A

Westlake, Oh 44145

Hours of Operation

8am - 6pm, M

9am - 6pm, T

2pm - 7pm, W,

8am - 6pm, Th

8am - 1pm, F