How Electroacupuncture Can Help with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


Can individuals with thoracic outlet syndrome incorporate electroacupuncture to reduce neck pain and restore proper posture?


More times throughout the world, many individuals have experienced pain around their necks, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Many environmental factors, like being in a hunched position while looking at the computer or phone, traumatic injuries, poor posture, or spinal issues, can cause pain-like symptoms and complications to the body. Since neck pain is a common complaint many people suffer, symptoms like tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness in the upper extremities can lead to comorbidities. When this happens, it can lead to the development of a complex condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome or TOS. Today’s article looks at the link between thoracic outlet syndrome and neck pain, how to manage TOS while alleviating neck pain, and how electroacupuncture can help with TOS. We talk with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess how to minimize the effects of TOS while reducing neck pain. We also inform and guide patients on how electroacupuncture can help manage TOS. We encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers intricate and important questions about incorporating electroacupuncture to alleviate TOS associated with the neck. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.


The Link Between Thoracic Outlet Syndrome & Neck Pain

Have you been noticing how you are hunched over more than usual? Do you experience symptoms of tingling or numbness down from your arms to your hands? Or do you feel muscle tension in your neck? Thoracic outlet syndrome, or TOS, is a challenging condition resulting in the compression of neurovascular structures between the clavicle and the first rib. (Masocatto et al., 2019) These neurovascular structures are near the neck and shoulders. When environmental structures affect the upper extremities, it can lead to referred neck pain, which can cause overlapping risk profiles. Some of the factors that TOS can contribute to neck pain include: 

  • Atomical variations
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive motions
  • Traumatic injuries



At the same time, people with neck pain can develop TOS, as neck pain is a multifactorial musculoskeletal condition that can be associated with overlapping risk profiles that contribute to TOS. (Kazeminasab et al., 2022) As stated earlier, factors like poor posture can overstretch the neck muscles and the neurovascular structures, leading to neuropathic pain symptoms that can cause deep aching referred pain to the neck and muscle weakness. (Childress & Stuek, 2020) When this happens, many people will begin to feel miserable and start to seek treatment to not only reduce TOS but also alleviate neck pain.


What Is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome- Video

Managing TOS & Alleviating Neck Pain

When it comes to treating TOS, especially when neck pain is a significant component, many individuals will try to seek out non-surgical treatments to reduce the symptoms. Many individuals may try physical therapy to stretch and strengthen their shoulder, chest, and neck muscles to relieve compression. Others might try a manual treatment that is joint-oriented for the neck while neural-tissue-oriented for TOS to improve mobilization on the upper extremities and even improve poor posture. (Kuligowski et al., 2021) Additionally, non-surgical treatments can be combined with other therapies to reduce the chances of TOS from returning as they can further increase sensory-motor function back to the neck and upper extremities. (Borrella-Andres et al., 2021)


How Electroacupuncture Can Help With TOS


Electroacupuncture is a modern form of traditional acupuncture that is part of the non-surgical treatments that can help manage TOS while alleviating neck pain. Electroacupuncture is a modification of inserting needles into the body’s acupoints while incorporating electric stimulation to deliver a pulsed electrical current to the affected area gently. (Zhang et al., 2022) Some of the beneficial properties that electrostimulation can provide for TOS include:

  • Pain reduction by stimulating the release of endorphins to decrease inflammation.
  • Help relax the affected muscles in the chest and neck to alleviate the pressure on the nerves of the thoracic outlet.
  • Help enhance the blood flow to reduce vascular compression of TOS.
  • Help stimulate the nerve pathway to promote healthy nerve function and reduce pain-like symptoms.

By incorporating electroacupuncture and non-surgical treatments to reduce TOS, many individuals can make modifications to their lifestyle habits and prevent issues from affecting their upper body extremities. By utilizing these treatments, many people can listen to their bodies and focus on their health and well-being by addressing the pain-like symptoms they are experiencing from TOS correlating with neck pain. At the same time, they have a positive relationship with their primary doctors to develop a personalized treatment plan that can manage their TOS symptoms to the best outcomes. 



Borrella-Andres, S., Marques-Garcia, I., Lucha-Lopez, M. O., Fanlo-Mazas, P., Hernandez-Secorun, M., Perez-Bellmunt, A., Tricas-Moreno, J. M., & Hidalgo-Garcia, C. (2021). Manual Therapy as a Management of Cervical Radiculopathy: A Systematic Review. Biomed Res Int, 2021, 9936981. doi.org/10.1155/2021/9936981

Childress, M. A., & Stuek, S. J. (2020). Neck Pain: Initial Evaluation and Management. American Family Physician, 102(3), 150-156. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32735440


Kazeminasab, S., Nejadghaderi, S. A., Amiri, P., Pourfathi, H., Araj-Khodaei, M., Sullman, M. J. M., Kolahi, A. A., & Safiri, S. (2022). Neck pain: global epidemiology, trends and risk factors. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 23(1), 26. doi.org/10.1186/s12891-021-04957-4

Kuligowski, T., Skrzek, A., & Cieslik, B. (2021). Manual Therapy in Cervical and Lumbar Radiculopathy: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(11). doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116176

Masocatto, N. O., Da-Matta, T., Prozzo, T. G., Couto, W. J., & Porfirio, G. (2019). Thoracic outlet syndrome: a narrative review. Rev Col Bras Cir, 46(5), e20192243. doi.org/10.1590/0100-6991e-20192243 (Sindrome do desfiladeiro toracico: uma revisao narrativa.)

Zhang, B., Shi, H., Cao, S., Xie, L., Ren, P., Wang, J., & Shi, B. (2022). Revealing the magic of acupuncture based on biological mechanisms: A literature review. Biosci Trends, 16(1), 73-90. doi.org/10.5582/bst.2022.01039


Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "How Electroacupuncture Can Help with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

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Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

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