NTOS symptoms and mobility: a case study on neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome involving massage therapy

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2014 Jan;18(1):42-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (NTOS) is a neuromuscular condition affecting brachial plexus functionality. NTOS is characterized by paresthesia, pain, muscle fatigue, and restricted mobility in the upper extremity. This study quantified massage therapy's possible contribution to treatment of NTOS. A 24-year-old female with NTOS received eight treatments over 35 days. Treatment included myofascial release, trigger point therapy, cross fiber friction, muscle stripping, and gentle passive stretching. Abduction and lateral rotation at the glenohumeral (GH joint) assessments measured range of motion (ROM). A resisted muscle test evaluated upper extremity strength. The client rated symptoms daily via a visual analog scale (VAS). Findings showed improvement in ROM at the GH joint. VAS ratings revealed a reduction in muscle weakness, pain, numbness, and 'paresthesia'. Results suggest massage may be useful as part of a broad approach to managing NTOS symptoms and improving mobility.

Keywords: Brachial plexus compression; Massage therapy; Neurogenic thoracic outlet; TOS treatment; Thoracic outlet.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brachial Plexus*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia / rehabilitation
  • Massage / methods*
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Weakness / rehabilitation
  • Pain / rehabilitation
  • Paresthesia / rehabilitation
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / etiology
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / rehabilitation*
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications