I’ve heard the same things everybody else has.
Markelle Fultz has apparently been to something like 10 specialists in an effort to discover what’s wrong with his shoulder. Only yesterday did we finally get a diagnosis for the shoulder issue that ails him, a diagnosis of “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.”
TOS, in simple terms, is a compression of the Thoracic Outlet located in the area between the lower neck and upper chest. That “outlet” consists of the Brachial Plexus and an artery and vein located just below the clavicle.
Here’s a handy diagram, courtesy of Hopkins Medicine, that shows the area in question:
The circled area is the Thoracic Outlet, which contains the Plexus (yellow), the subclavian artery (red), and the subclavian vein (blue). The Brachial Plexus is basically a network of nerves that extends from your spinal cord through your neck and over the ribcage into your armpit. While nerves are present in this area, TOS isn’t considered a “nerve issue,” it’s categorized as a group of disorders and not one specific thing.
There is, however, a bit of discrepancy in the language used by the Sixers and Markelle’s agent, Raymond Brothers, because in the press release the team says he has “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” while Brothers told Adrian Wojnarowski that Markelle has “Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome,” which would suggest that the compression is on the nerve bundle and not the veins. A “vascular” TOS would be the compression of those veins instead, which is easier to diagnose than the neurogenic variety because the patient would have altered pulsations or more identifiable blood vessel issues. The neurogenic version of TOS is said to be more common but harder to diagnose.
People with TOS will suffer from their collarbone, chest muscle, or neck muscle pushing against one or more of the aforementioned vessels or nerves, which results in pain in the neck and shoulders or a numbness and weakness that shoots down to the hand and fingers. The sensations are inconsistent and TOS presents itself in a somewhat erratic way.