Woman holding her neck in pain after a car accident.

There are many injuries you can sustain from a car accident. Whiplash, bruising, and muscle soreness are all common and well-known.

A common car accident injury that is less known, however, is thoracic outlet syndrome.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is when the nerves and blood vessels in your thoracic spine—the area between your neck and upper ribs—become compressed causing shoulder and neck pain as well as numbness in your extremities.

TOS is usually a result of a blunt force trauma such as a car accident and—like many car accident injuries—it may not present itself right away. Once the symptoms do set in however, it can be a huge interruption in your daily life.

Fortunately, chiropractic care is an excellent, non-invasive treatment for TOS. Read on to learn more about it and how seeing a chiropractor after a car accident can help you treat it.

What Is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

The thoracic outlet is a bundle of blood vessels and nerves that pass through your neck, shoulders, and upper back to your arms. These vessels don’t have a lot of space, so they pass underneath and between the strong bands of muscles that support your head.

In a car crash, much like with whiplash, the muscles in your neck and back can be stretched and strained. When damaged, the muscles become inflamed and tender, developing scar tissue and limiting range of motion.

All of this puts pressure on the tissues of the thoracic outlet. Pressure on the nerves can cause tingling or pins and needles in the shoulder, elbow and even the wrist. Pressure on the blood vessels can also cause problems in the arm like numbness and reduced functionality.

A car accident or any slip and fall that strains your neck can cause thoracic outlet syndrome, but it can also be caused by poor posture and repetitive movements and activities, like in sports or operating heavy machinery. Complications from pregnancy can also cause TOS.

If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, a chiropractic exam can help determine if the cause is thoracic outlet syndrome and set a treatment plan for you.

When you’ve been in a car accident, however minor, it’s always a smart idea to visit a chiropractor as soon as possible to diagnose any hidden injuries.

Patient receiving neck treatment from chiropractor.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Symptoms to Watch Out For

It’s common to have some muscle stiffness in the days after a car accident, but thoracic outlet syndrome is more serious than muscle stiffness.

Early symptoms of TOS include neck, back, and collarbone pain and tired arms. More advanced but still common symptoms include weakening grip and numbness or tingling in your fingers, arm pain and swelling, blood clots in your arms, lack of color in your hands, arm fatigue, and throbbing in your neck or collarbone.

The symptoms of TOS do not set in immediately, so an early diagnosis can mean less thorough treatment. Many states, like Florida, have a 14-day accident law that states you must seek medical care within 14 days of your accident for it to be covered by your Personal Injury Protection.

So even if your accident was minor and you’re not in much pain, it’s highly recommended that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident so that your treatment is covered and you get an early diagnosis.

How Can Chiropractic Care Treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Chiropractic adjustments are all about properly aligning your spine so your body can function properly.

When it comes to treating thoracic outlet syndrome, spinal adjustments can help release the pressure on your nerves and blood vessels, releasing the tension that is causing you so much pain and discomfort.

Chiropractic adjustments realign your spine so your body can function as intended, making everyday tasks simpler to complete. Adjustments can improve your posture helping your body to heal itself as well.

In addition to chiropractic adjustments, medical massage techniques like trigger point therapy or myofascial massage target your affected muscles to release the tension helping them to relax and better support your skeletal system.

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment option for thoracic outlet syndrome, and the best part is, it helps your body to heal itself and prevent similar injuries down the line.

Chiropractor treating a patient's neck and upper back.

Get the Chiropractic Care You Need from Lakes Chiropractic & Wellness

Car accident injuries are one of the major reasons people go see a chiropractor or car accident doctor, and they’re also a major reason we at Lakes Chiropractic & Wellness offer same or next-day appointments.

We want to give you the treatment you need as soon as possible so you can return to your daily routine as quickly as possible. Your first appointment includes taking your full medical history and X-rays if needed so we can give you a complete diagnosis. From there, we develop a personalized treatment plan designed to get you back on your feet in no time.

Don’t wait for symptoms to get steadily worse. Book an appointment today, and get the relief you need.