Arm Hand Numbness Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Advice from a Certified Hand Therapist: Can a T-Shirt Improve Posture and Help Treat Arm Pain?

Are you someone who suffers from thoracic outlet syndrome and has arm pain? Perhaps this special t-shirt is for you!

Arm pain and tingling is a common symptom of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). TOS is a term used to describe compression in the space between the collarbone and the first rib. Other symptoms include numbness in the arm and hand, pain and aches in the neck, shoulder or hand and arm fatigue with activity. While the cause of TOS is compression, the cause of the compression can be due to a number of factors. One common offender is poor posture. The posture that is often associated with TOS is drooping or rounded shoulders and holding the head in a forward position.

TOS is often treated with rehabilitation, medication and sometimes surgery. During rehabilitation treatment, an emphasis is placed on improving posture through exercises, stretches and use of athletic taping techniques. Taping provides support and gentle feedback to guide the shoulder into a better position. A more recent development is a t-shirt that mimics the taping technology and accomplishes a similar effect with greater ease.

Intelliskin, a Human Technology™ company, has a wide range of products including t-shirts and bras that use their patented PostureCue™ technology. The technology uses special polymer fabrics that allow for movement while encouraging proper posture. This is accomplished by providing cues to the muscles that guide the shoulder into a better position and relieve the compression. Many people report that these products are comfortable, serve as good reminders of proper posture, and provide symptom relief. The correct fit is important, so consult with a therapist when first ordering the products. It is also suggested to start slowly and at first wear the product for a few hours a day. This will allow you to get used to the feel of the shirt and the new position.

So, can a t-shirt improve your posture? It seems that the answer is yes! Please remember that this is just one solution for TOS arm pain. If you suffer from TOS, you may benefit from the help of a certified hand therapist. To find a certified hand therapist, visit the ASHT Find a Therapist directory at

Aviva Wolff, EdD, OT, CHT is a Certified Hand Therapist and member of the American Society of Hand.

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