Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg Faces Delay in Returning after TOS Surgery

In the 2009 draft, the Washington Nationals chose pitcher Stephen Strasburg as their first round pick. Over the years, Strasburg has started 247 times and holds a 113-62 record. This three-time All-Star was also named the 2019 World Series MVP. But since 2020, Strasburg has been sidelined by various injuries and surgeries: carpal tunnel in 2020, thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) in 2021. He returned to the mound in 2022—only to experience issues stemming from his TOS and related surgery. 

During the offseason, Strasburg has been hard at work in rehab so that he can once again get on the mound and help the Nationals towards victory. But, shares MLB, he unfortunately faces another delay after continued TOS-related issues. During Spring Training, Strasburg felt good about pitching in the bullpen. After his second session, however, he felt nerve pain in his ribs. Doctors recognize that this is related to a stress reaction resulting from his prior surgery. As a result, Strasburg has been rehabbing in Washington, D.C. 

Team manager Dave Martinez notes that Strasburg would love to return to the mound and pitch again. He notes that, while Strasburg’s recovery has not gone as smoothly as hoped, the team knows how hard Strasburg is working. And when he’s healthy and ready to return, they will open him back with open arms. 

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)? 

Thoracic outlet syndrome—which can be arterial, venous, or neurogenic—occurs when nerves and blood vessels in an area of the lower neck/upper chest (the thoracic outlet) become compressed or injured. This compression may be caused by extra ribs or other anatomical defects, car accidents or other trauma, pregnancy, or repetitive injuries (such as from sports). TOS is most common in those between ages 20 to 50 and is 3x more prevalent in females than males. Symptoms related to TOS may include: 

  • Weakened grip and/or general hand weakness
  • Bluish discoloration of the hand or fingers
  • Swelling and pain in the affected arm
  • Blood clots 
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the neck, shoulder, hand, or arm
  • Cold fingers, hands, or arms from impaired circulation 
  • Arm fatigue with activity

Please note that symptoms may differ based on the specific TOS subtype. In many cases, TOS cannot be prevented. But it is treatable. Typically, physical therapy and pain medication are enough to treat TOS. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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