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Thursday 28 November 2013

West Ham medics lead way on rare neck condition

Diagnosis of injury to Mark Noble published in leading sports medicine journal

  • Mark Noble was able to make a swift recovery thanks to the surgery

  • Dr Weiler, left, and Rolls have published the research on TOS

West Ham United are leading the exploration into a rare neck and shoulder condition after two of their medical department published ground-breaking research into the little-known injury suffered by a first-team player.

Mark Noble, the West Ham midfielder, woke in agony one morning in February 2013, with intense pain in his right upper arm, restricted movement to his right shoulder and muscle weakness and tingling in his right hand.

"I was in absolute agony and had never felt pain like it before"
Mark Noble

He was examined by the club's medical officer Dr Richard Weiler and the head of sports science and sports medicine Andy Rolls. After further investigation it was diagnosed that Noble was suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome and the player was told to rest for a month, taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine.

However, the pain worsened and it was decided to operate on the Noble’s thoracic outlet. During the operation, the surgeon discovered that an enlarged neck muscle, soft tissue scarring and inflammation were causing the TOS. The surgeon, Marco Sinisi, loosened one of Noble’s neck muscles and released a layer of tissue around the nerve fibres and blood vessels to relieve the pressure.

Six weeks later Noble was able to return to action in the Barclays Premier League, against Manchester United on 17 April 2013.

Now, Dr Weiler and Rolls have published their findings in the respected British Journal of Sport and Exercise Medicine.

"This case illustrated the expertise both within and at the disposal of the club's medical department"
Andy Rolls

"This publication will hopefully benefit other medics and athletes unfortunate enough to suffer from this condition and we thank Mark for sharing his story to help others," Dr Weiler said. "Thoracic outlet syndrome is a rare condition in football and Mark was in a great deal of pain, so it was fantastic to make the diagnosis so quickly.”

Rolls added: "This case illustrated the expertise both within and at the disposal of the club's medical department. Jointly, we were happy to publish our findings for the benefit of others in the future."

Noble was grateful that the diagnosis has enabled him to make a pain-free return.

"I was in absolute agony and had never felt pain like it before," he  said. "With the other symptoms, I was obviously worried about what was wrong. If publishing what happened to me can help other players to be correctly diagnosed and treated too, I am more than happy to help."

To read the full research piece, click here

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Key Points

  • Two members of West Ham's medical staff publish leading research on rare neck and shoulder condition
  • Midfielder Mark Noble suffered from the condition nkown as thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Diagnosis and surgery were able to resolve the problem quickly for the club and player