thoracic outlet syndromeLos Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett has said he’s feeling good and ready for a comeback after leaving the team in July 2013 due to thoracic outlet syndrome. Beckett has said that he had experienced numbness and tingling in his pitching hand for several years.

What Is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic outlet syndrome refers to a group of disorders caused by compression, injury, or irritation of the nerves and blood vessels in the neck and chest. Thoracic outlet syndrome is often the result of a fractured collarbone or extra cervical rib. This shrinks the space for the vessels and nerves to pass through and often causes compression. Other possible causes include:

  • Tumors
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Sleeping trouble
  • Repetitive arm movement
  • Neck or back injury
  • Bad posture

The most common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome are neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness.

Thoracic Outlet Surgery

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett underwent a procedure called thoracic outlet surgery. The purpose of this procedure was to remove a rib that was putting pressure on a nerve and causing numbness in the fingers of his pitching hand.

While thoracic outlet syndrome can be treated in a variety of ways, surgery is sometimes necessary. The purpose of thoracic outlet surgery is to relieve the compression by removing the source. This is typically done by removing the first rib – as in the case of Josh Beckett – or removing any muscles or fibrous bands that may be causing compression. This is traditionally performed through an incision in the underarm, although it can also be done through an incision above the collarbone.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, also known as VATS, is a type of minimally invasive thoracic surgery. The advantages of this approach are less scarring, less pain, faster recovery, and a lower risk of complications. In addition to using VATS for thoracic outlet surgery, Los Angeles surgeons at West Coast Associates for Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery can also use the technique to treat lung cancer, pulmonary nodules, esophageal cancer, emphysema, hyperhidrosis, and a number of other disorders.

Contact an Expert in Thoracic Outlet Surgery

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett isn’t alone in suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome. Athletes and non-athletes alike experience the pain and numbness associated with nerve and blood vessel compression in the chest and neck. But patients with thoracic outlet syndrome don’t have to continue to suffer. The top thoracic surgeons at West Coast Associates for Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery can help. Call us today at 310.854.0909 to schedule your consultation.