Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Journey with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - By Media Goon's Sister




My sister dealt with this within the last couple of years. Here is the part that sticks out to me.

What they don’t tell you is that years later there are still issues. I was told when I went back for my post operation appointment that a nerve was cut and I may not have good feeling in the upper part of my chest. Well, wrong nerve because three years later I am numb in the back of my arm. My right arm still does not have full range of motion. I cannot straighten it out to match my left arm. If I am driving for an extended time or am holding something for more than an hour my right hand constricts almost like the muscles are curling into themselves. I am better than I was three years ago but I am not 100%.
Something to think about?


My Journey with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome  

by MediaGoon's Sister

In October 2013 I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) after suffering with pain in my shoulder and lack of feeling in my arm for almost three years. After hearing that this is possibly something that Matt Harvey is suffering from my thoughts can only go back to what happened to me. One day my shoulder would hurt. The next day it would be ok, not great but ok. I would be doing something and my arm would just drop down completely numb.

The first time I really noticed any issues, I was working out with a trainer and moved, or so I thought, the wrong way in the gym and swore I did something to my rotator cuff. I went to my orthopedic who found nothing. He thought it was a possible muscle strain. I trusted him as I have been going to him for years and tend to be accident prone.

Several weeks went by, I thought everything was ok. My arm just started randomly going dead. My right hand would lock up or freeze. I am an executive assistant. I type all day. Self-diagnosis through WebMD made me think it was carpal tunnel syndrome. No big deal, it happens. I started going for acupuncture but that was like putting a band aid over a major artery bleed. Nothing seemed to help.

Two and a half years passed of me in pain and losing feeling in my arm until I finally went to a neurologist thinking maybe there is something wrong with my brain. I was tested for a bunch of neurological diseases including multiple sclerosis. I had discs out in my neck but the wrong side was being affected. Finally, I had a nerve test and was told it was my ulna nerve and I needed therapy. Finally! Something to hang my hat on. 

Going for physical therapy was the best thing I ever did. No, it did not help my condition but it was my physical therapist that finally diagnosed me. Nothing we did helped and she swore I had TOS and needed to get to a vascular surgeon sooner rather than later and that’s exactly what I did. Of course I had no clue what the hell TOS was but I would soon learn.

Within a week of seeing a surgeon, I was diagnosed. Surgery was scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving. TOS is caused can be caused by the following:
  • Congenital abnormality (ribs and muscles grew weirdly)
  • Trauma or repetitive strain
  • Rare acquired causes such as a tumor
Mine was caused by an abnormality. My first rib was basically crushing my veins and nerves under my collar bone. The rib had to go!

Surgery was a good three to four hours long and went well. It was painful. I have a high tolerance of pain and this is the first time I can say a surgery hurt me. I was not allowed to move my arm for a whole week and then had extremely limited movement for the next week. Then I had physical therapy. Walking my fingers up the wall to try and restore movement. I hurt. I didn’t feel “normal” for at least six weeks.

What they don’t tell you is that years later there are still issues. I was told when I went back for my post operation appointment that a nerve was cut and I may not have good feeling in the upper part of my chest. Well, wrong nerve because three years later I am numb in the back of my arm. My right arm still does not have full range of motion. I cannot straighten it out to match my left arm. If I am driving for an extended time or am holding something for more than an hour my right hand constricts almost like the muscles are curling into themselves. I am better than I was three years ago but I am not 100%.


Now, I cannot say what caused Matt Harvey’s TOS, if he does have it, but when I looked up TOS again to make sure my spelling was right, there was a list of “Notable Cases.” Several MLB players, mostly pitchers, have TOS. The name that stood out for me in that list was Chris Young. He had surgery in 2013 and said he felt “completely different” post recovery. He returned and played for the Mariner’s in 2014 and was a valuable player. This gives me hope that, since he will definitely have a better physical therapy program than I had, that he will return better than he did after his last stint on the DL.

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