(01/15/14) - How far would you go to relieve your pain? How about having a
Removing a rib freed Kami Bathon from the pain caused by a disorder called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, or TOS. For her, the complicated procedure was worth the freedom from agony.
For Kami, staying active is a way of life, "I was an extremely active person my entire life. I was a dancer, a soccer player."
But a year ago, the fitness enthusiast developed severe pain and numbness in her arm that severely limited her workouts, "it would feel like something was tearing through my bicep. I went from being able to dead lift 250 pounds, to where I couldn't pick up my purse from the car seat next to me."
The nerves in Kami's neck and shoulder were being compressed by bones and other tissues, because of TOS.
To relieve the pain, surgeon Robert Thompson first removed muscles in front of the nerves and cleared away scar tissue. Then, he removed muscles behind the nerves, and took out a rib. Finally, he divided the pectoralis muscle.
"That gives the most thorough decompression of the nerves," says Dr. Thompson.
Two months after her surgery, Kami is feeling much better and she has a souvenir, "this is my first rib from the right side that was removed during surgery."
Now, she can focus on her workouts and not her pain.
Dr. Thompson says removing the first rib and some of the surrounding muscles does not cause any harm to the patients, and they can function just fine without them.
TOS is more common in athletes like baseball pitchers, who use repetitive arm motions.
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