Thoracic Outlet System

Massachusetts Workplace Injury Lawyers

The Massachusetts disability attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates are known for their commitment to workers’ compensation law. For over 20 years, our Boston office has provided high quality representation to injured workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We are dedicated to recovering benefits for employees with thoracic outlet syndrome and other injuries sustained on the job.

Pressure on Vessels, Muscles, and Nerves

Between the collarbone and the first rib is a small opening known as the thoracic outlet. Through this space run important blood vessels, nerves, and muscles responsible for upper body movement. An especially vital network of nerves, the brachial plexus, passes through the outlet, and is responsible for muscle control. Thoracic outlet syndrome refers to a variety of symptoms brought on by the collapse of the clavicle into the space below. When weak shoulder muscles cause the collarbone to fall, the bone compresses the nerves and vessels underneath.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Causes

Thoracic outlet syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors present in the workplace. Today’s fast-paced jobs place great stress on the upper body while allowing little time for healthy physical activity. Job-related causes of thoracic outlet syndrome often involve:

  • Desk jobs
  • Poor posture
  • Car accidents
  • Lifting objects
  • Computer work
  • Diabetes, obesity
  • Repetitive motion
  • Sedentary position
  • Reaching overhead
  • Elevated arm stress

Medical studies show that being mildly overweight to obese can dramatically aggravate thoracic outlet syndrome. Physicians also find psychological changes in affected patients, but are unsure whether they are a cause or effect of the condition.

Syndrome Symptoms

Thoracic outlet syndrome may begin with vague discomfort and morph into unbearable pain. Workers who notice pain in the arm, shoulder, or neck may be experiencing compression of nerves and blood vessels in the thoracic outlet. Common symptoms can include:

  • Numb fingers
  • Weakening grip
  • Shoulder spasms
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Burning or tingling
  • Weak feeling in hand
  • Arm swelling or fatigue
  • Blood clot in upper body
  • Skin discoloration on hand
  • Throbbing lump near clavicle

Most symptoms of pain are caused by the compression of nerves coming from the spinal cord. Pressure in the thoracic outlet can result in lack of muscle control or sensation in the arm, neck, and shoulder. Discoloration of the hand is usually caused by vascular compression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Thoracic outlet syndrome is more difficult to diagnose than other shoulder conditions because patients suffer from a variety of symptoms. Physicians often require an extensive medical history and thorough physical examination as part of the evaluation. Patients may have to alter their lifestyle as part of treatment, lose weight, and change their workstations to avoid strenuous activities that cause or exacerbate the condition.

Workers’ Compensation

Massachusetts law provides workers’ compensation for thoracic outlet syndrome and other job-related injuries. Employers must pay benefits to injured workers regardless of fault. Employees may be entitled to a lump-sum settlement, medical costs, lost income, and retraining expenses. Cash payments reflect a portion of the worker’s average weekly wage, and continue for the duration of the disability or until workers receive medical clearance for full duty.

Recover Compensation Today

If you suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome caused or exacerbated by work, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates can help. For over 20 years, injured employees have depended on us to recover benefits and represent them in court. Based in Boston, we have obtained substantial awards for disabled workers in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Merrimack River, and other counties. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us.