Date
8 December 2016
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition in which there is compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit.. Photo: Bloomberg
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition in which there is compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit.. Photo: Bloomberg

How an improper massage can worsen neck injury

A recent patient of mine was an air hostess who sprained her neck after placing a passenger’s carry-on luggage in an overhead locker.

The pain spread to her shoulders and upper arm.

But instead of visiting a doctor, she went for two massage sessions from which she sustained further injuries and bruises. The masseuse applied too much pressure in the back-walk massage.

Fearing she had suffered a stroke, she checked herself into a hospital emergency room.

She had numb hands and fingers and stiff neck and shoulders.

The doctor assured her that she did not have a stroke but an inflammation of the ribs and her chest muscles were severely overstretched.

She was told to have a check-up with a chiropractor or an orthopedist and that’s how I met her.

I learned that she had neck pain prior to the injury, which might have been the result of her long-hours watching TV dramas on an iPad without regard for her improper posture.

Her neck was straightened, with a narrowing between cervical discs C5 and C6.

The shoulder pain originated from a reflex action after the sprain. The numbness in her hands and fingers was caused by the massage sessions, which also gave rise to thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).

TOS is a condition in which there is compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit.

Common symptoms include pain in the shoulder and neck and numbness in the hands and fingers.

Her TOS was induced by a displaced rib, which has been corrected by a chiropractic adjustment, along with two sessions of ultrasound therapy to ease her swollen chest muscles and remove numbness in her hands and fingers.

Her shoulder pain would be relieved by 10 follow-up sessions.

However, up to a year would be needed to fix the problem of her straightened neck. Suitable exercises have to be followed, along with treatment sessions.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 9.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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