Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Support Group

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) consists of a group of distinct disorders that affect the nerves in the brachial plexus (nerves that pass into the arms from the neck) and various nerves and blood vessels between the base of the neck and armpit.

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Dr. Criado in Michigan

Newly diagnosed after 3 years of chronic pain. Saw Dr. Criado at the university of Mich. and he is recommending surgery. Has antone had experience with him? I have been to 6 physical therapist over the years with no relief and haven't found a pain med that works. Any info is greatly appreciated.



Hi! I live in the Nashville, TN area so I don't have any experience with Dr. Criado. However, I spent about 4 years in chronic pain before I found an acupuncturist that was able to relieve the pain. I had also gone through a ton of physical therapists and a bunch of other specialists...including two orthopedic surgeons who told me surgery was my only option but that they didn't recommend it unless I was in so much pain that I just couldn't stand it anymore. Removing a rib is a huge procedure and often results in more problems than you started with...and the recovery period is pretty long. I considered the surgery because I was going out of my mind with pain and wasn't even able to work because the muscles in my hands had atrophied to the point where I couldn't hold a pencil. Now I hardly struggle with it at all anymore and I've been able to resume my life...thanks to one great acupuncturist who taught me about trigger point release.

You might have the same problem that I had...the physical therapy didn't work for me because my neck/upper back/chest muscles were full of trigger points (muscle knots) that were pulling my bones out of alignment (which restricted the thoracic outlet & caused the crushing of my brachial plexus). The PT's were giving me strengthening exercises which actually made the symptoms muscles simply needed to relax (aka the trigger points needed to be released). My acupuncturist released my trigger points with needles, and after a couple of months I started feeling real relief from the pain. Then I found a massage therapist who specialized in trigger point massage and eventually I learned how to release my own trigger points using a book called The Trigger Point Therapy Manual. Here is a link to amazon: ( This book recommends using trigger point release tools called the Backknobber and Theracane (just google these & you can find the cheapest price...I got mine for around $30). I have the Backknobber and this is what I used to release my own trigger points. I'm sure the Theracane is awesome was just more expensive.

I found that none of the medical doctors I talked to had an understanding of how muscle tension plays a role in TOS. I would ask your doctor about trigger points and see if he knows anything about it. I find it incredibly disheartening that doctors are removing their patients bones in order to "fix" a dysfunction of the muscles. I know it might sound too good to be true, but I am living proof that you can heal yourself and keep all of your ribs. You might also want to read my response to the last post in our group...I included more details about my story. I would love to help you in any way that I can.

Take care,


I also have been diagnosed with TOS by my chiropractor, and he gave me exercises to do that strengthen my back (also recommended breast cancer reduction surgery, but that is not financially feasible at this time). I was also given wrist braces to wear, but I think that was more for carpal tunnel than the TOS. I totally recommend finding a good chiropractor (and not all of them are good, so be careful) as they seem to understand things like TOS better than medical doctors.

Hope that helps!

Before you try surgery, I just found a massager that takes my pain from the top of the pain scale right down to the bottom of it, and you only need to use it for 10 mins. at a time! It is made by Quantum and it is called a Tapping Massager - for deep and soothing relief for hard to reach muscles. I was very ansy about trying it, I didn't think that it would do much, as I was in extreme pain (chest and whole arm). I used it for 5min in the store, then for 20 more when I got home. The next morning I woke up and was shocked at how much better I felt!
I have been using it every day since, I have had some minor pain, but I use the massager and the pain eases.
The massager is like a vest that goes over your shoulders, you do not have to hold it in your hands, it can be moved up and down your back easily.
I managed to get it for $20, so much cheaper than the pain meds that weren't working!

Hi! I REALLY hope you get this! DR Criado did my surgery about 3 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did. It was VERY painful, but thanks to that man I have my life back again

I have seen Dr. Criado as well and am in the process if weighing my options of having surgery. I am very scared but I hear he is amazing. I was diagnosed last year after suffering for 3 years. I am on here to try to find someone to talk to about what to expect post surgery. Haven't found a single thing that works for me either.
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