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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Get Benefits


TOS can be eligible for workers comp benefits, but only if you can show this condition is a direct cause of your work activity.

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when blood vessels or nerves located between the collarbone and first rib are compressed. The way the syndrome manifests itself can vary, depending on the specific portion that is compressed, but it can generally include numbness in the fingers or even shoulder pains.

Those who have to perform repetitive tasks are more at risk of developing thoracic outlet syndrome, as the motion may lead to certain areas to be compressed. If this happens to you, then you may be entitled to worker’s comp benefits.

Causes of TOS

Thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by the nerves or vessels in the thoracic outlet being compressed. This can result from:

  • Physical defects, such as an extra rib located above the cervical rib
  • Trauma, such as a car accident that can lead to internal changes
  • Poor posture, such as keeping the head in a forward position
  • Repetitive tasks, such as typing on a computer, or lifting objects over the head
  • Pregnancy, as joints can loosen
  • Pressure on joints, caused by obesity or carrying heavy objects

Symptoms of TOS

The symptoms of this syndrome can vary, but they generally consist of:

  • Numbness or tingling in the arm or fingers
  • Neck, shoulder, or hand pains
  • Weak grip
  • Arm fatigue
  • Throbbing lumps near the collarbone

Thoracic outlet syndrome can result in a lot of unpleasantries, as you may find you will not be able to take part in your usual activities, be it because of the pain, or the fact that you cannot grip objects.

If left untreated, this condition can cause permanent nerve damage. Treatment for TOS generally consists of physical therapy, pain management medications, and anti-inflammatory medications.

How to Receive Compensation

TOS can be eligible for workers comp benefits, but only if you can show this condition is a direct cause of your work activity. For instance, if you’ve sustained trauma outside of work, and as a result develop TOS, you will not be able to cover the costs of your treatment under worker’s comp benefits.

But, if the trauma took place at your place of employment, or is a cause of repetitive stress, then you can file a workers comp claim through your employer. Notify your supervisor of your injury, and await further instructions. In Missouri, your employer has the right to choose your workers’ comp doctor, so you will not be able to see your regular physician unless your employer approves it.

You May Need a Lawyer

While you are not required to have legal representation to file a worker’s comp claim, it may be to your benefit. A good workers comp lawyer will make sure your rights are protected all throughout the entire process, leaving you to solely focus on your recovery.

If you are suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome caused by your work, contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. For more than 25 years we have helped injured workers in St. Louis receive the workers compensation benefits they need and deserve. Call us today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online case evaluation form to request a free consultation.

Updated: December 19, 2019
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