Elmira, New York – Many people are diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome every year. We sat with Dr. Warren Chin, a family physician at the Arnot Ogden Medical Center and clinical professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and his patient Tam-Lin G to learn about her experience.
It was a beautiful fall day and 31-year-old Upstate New York native Tam-Lin G. was doing what most New Englanders do during this time of year, bagging leaves. After loading several heavy bags onto a flatbed truck, Tam-Lin felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder and a numbing, tickling sensation running down her right hand. Thus started a 10-month long ordeal where she doggedly sought answers and solutions to her evolving pain and symptoms.
The first doctor, an orthopedist, diagnosed her with cervical radiculopathy. He recommended the standard treatment of physical therapy for 4-6 weeks which would include cervical traction, the McKenzie method, and range of motion. Upon consulting with her family doctor, Tam-Lin underwent the treatment as directed, finding that one physical therapist often contradicted another. The most she came to hope for was a transient relief of her symptoms only to be left in the same predicament a few days later.
“I would continue having a dead, heavy weighted feeling in my right arm, a cold hand, intense pain throughout the right shoulder, both posteriorly and anteriorly that would radiate across the majority of my chest, and stabbing, shooting neck pain. I would work through the pain and was diligent about the home exercise program because I believed in this form of conservative treatment.”Tam-Lin G. from Upstate New York
As weeks turned into months, Tam-Lin reached back out to her primary care doctor. Upon hearing the constellation of evolving symptoms her primary care physician informed her that the culprit was likely to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Her primary care doctor then decided the best course of action would be a consultation with a cardiothoracic surgeon. Desperate for relief, Tam-Lin agreed to undergo surgery but her insurance refused to cover the pre-op tests she needed to do. “I didn’t want to get surgery, but all of the medical professionals I consulted up until that point led me to believe it was the only solution to my pain. I was honestly both relieved and devastated when I couldn’t get the surgery and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened!” Tam Lin said.
With her pain growing and options dwindling, she reached out to her primary care doctor again who suggested a last-ditch effort, Osteopathic Manipulation by a Doctor of Osteopathy or a “DO”. Luckily, her doctor had just the guy in mind, Dr. Warren Chin, an Osteopathic Family Medicine doctor at Arnot Ogden Medical Center and Clinical Professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Elmira, New York. Dr. Chin is renowned for his innovative techniques, many of which he has designed himself, for conditions such as Tam-Lin’s. In the wake of failing physical therapy and surgery off the table, Tam-Lin jumped at the opportunity to see Dr. Chin.
Upon musculoskeletal examination, Dr. Chin quickly confirmed that Tam-Lin did have a significant spasm at C2 on the left, the first rib, and T3-6 on the right. After only ten minutes of adjustments using modified vector forces and modified osteopathic techniques, Tam-Lin was amazed at the immediate relief and relative ease with which her pain disappeared.
After only one more minor adjustment a week later, Tam-Lin was back to normal and the pain that once ruled her life was just a distant memory. “I am so glad I saw Dr. Chin before resorting to surgery. He did in 10 minutes what would have taken hours in surgery and months of recovery. He gave me back my life! I am deeply grateful!” Tam-Lin added.
“Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation and even just plain ignorance of the simple, gentle solutions osteopathic manipulation provides to patients who find themselves with conditions such as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. By sharing Tam Lin’s story we hope to raise awareness of osteopathic manipulation as a first line treatment for patients just like her.”Warren Chin, DO
Family Physician at Arnot Ogden Medical Center & Clinical Professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Elmira, New York
If you or a loved one are in pain, Dr. Chin advises seeking out osteopathic manipulation to see if simple adjustments could be the solution you’ve been searching for.
“It’s truly a blessing for our patients that Dr. Chin has moved from New Hampshire to join our community of family physicians in New York.” said Adam Eid Ramsey MD, Co-Editor-in-Chief of HPHR (formerly Harvard Public Health Review) and a former Alt-Resident Representative to the Board of Directors at the New York State Academy of Family Physicians.
Hopefully, more doctors get on board with osteopathic manipulations and follow the lead of these innovative practitioners who give patients their quality of life back with non-invasive, simple solutions.