With the start of the new year, everyone is hitting the gym to make good on resolutions to get fit.  HIIT-specific workout centers especially are packed right now.

HIIT—or high-intensity interval training—combines quick bursts of activity with short rest periods to maximize calorie burn.  It’s an effective workout for many, but it’s not without risk for injury.

Common injuries as a result of HIIT workouts include muscle or tendon strains, joint dislocations, and fractures. Another serious condition that we are seeing increasingly at CTVS Texas  in HIIT devotees is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome occurs when the blood vessels and nerves in between your collarbone and upper ribs (or thoracic outlet) become compressed, causing pain and/or numbness in your neck, shoulders, arms, and fingers.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be caused by any type of physical trauma from whiplash in a car to repetitive or overuse injuries in sports.

“The very quick series of repetitive movements in some workouts can lead to this compression of blood vessels in the chest and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome,” says Dr. Jeffrey M. Apple, one of our board-certified vascular surgeons at CTVS Texas. “Those who have never tried more intense workouts before now and are going all out with too much intensity, too soon, without gradually getting acclimated to the rhythm, are most susceptible.”

Dr. Apple says it’s important to start any exercise—or any new form of exercise—slowly to get the body used to new movements and avoid injury.

What are common symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness, pain, or tingling in arms, hands or fingers
  • Sudden aches or pains in neck or shoulders
  • Weakened grip
  • Discoloration of hand or fingers (typically bluish)
  • Weakened pulse
  • Throbbing lump or sensation near the collarbone
  • A blood clot in the arm

If you experience any of these symptoms without relief after more than a day or two, seek medical help.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is often treated with physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or thromobolytics to break up and prevent blood clots. In severe cases, decompression surgery may be necessary.

If you have any questions about Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, please contact us at ctvstexas.com or call us at (512) 459-8753.

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(Adapted from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)