Sunday, December 4, 2011

How I was diagnosed - A 20 Year Journey

"I can make a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome but the etiological factor can escape at the present time unless there is a severe case of a large cervical rib."
-Carlos A. Selmonosky, M.D

~ ~ ~

I was recently asked how I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
The answer is complicated, as it seems to be for most folks with TOS.

I began with symptoms of Torticollis in 1987, with many repeated rounds of neck-locking up occuring, followed by meds, physical therapy, xrays, MRI's, CAT scans, referrals, chiropracters, at home traction, neck braces, TEN's name it-I tried it.

I went on living normally inbetween these episodes of frozen neck until 2003.
I was in a car accident and the whiplash stopped me in my tracks.
I was sent for more x-rays and physical therapy.
When three months of that only left me in more pain, I sought out yet another chiropracter, who upon inspection of my xrays, informed me I have cervical ribs.

All those years, all those tests and Doctors and xrays and no one thought to point out to me I have these two extra bones in the area where I have had so much pain.

I began reading and learning about cervical ribs, and continued attempting therapy at home.
The following summer my son went through a growth spurt and his arms began aching terribly. When xrayed, it was noted he has cervical ribs and would need to consult a specialist for possible surgical decompression.

It was in the appointment with my sons surgeon, as he was receiving his diagnosis of TOS, that I knew I also have TOS.
But it would be four more years before I would visit the same doctor for my own symptoms...because my teenage daughter cropped up one year after my son with arm pain and-you guessed it--cervical ribs and TOS!

So eighteen months after my daughter went through surgical decompression, I decided pills and physical therapy, massage and deep breathing were not going to change the situation with these extra bones causing pain in my body.
Besides, if my kids could be brave enough to go through rib resection, so could I!

Once I went to see our family TOS surgeon, I was an easy diagnosis.
My Dr. ran tests-the in office tests-bp, raise hands, twist, turn, strength check, push, pull--then Doppler tests, MRI, x-ray.
Doctor said with my history, my childrens history, and the cervical ribs it was plain as day I have TOS and could benefit from decompression.

And there you have it, my Twenty year journey to a diagnosis.