What is Stinger Injury? Know its Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Stinger Injury also known as Burner is the name given to injuries, which are quite common in contact sports which causes pain as a result of nerve injury of the shoulder or neck.

What Is Stinger Injury (Burner)?

Stinger Injury (Burner) is a common injury of the nerves of the shoulder and neck. Stinger injuries usually happen to individuals participating in contact sports like football or hockey. Burner or Stinger relates to an injury to the nerve supply of upper arms, either at the neck or shoulders. The name of the injury comes from the burning and stinging pain that it produces which radiates from the shoulder to the hand. They give a sensation of an electric shock. Stinger Injury (Burner) is a self limiting injury and goes away on its own relatively quickly.

Stinger Injury

What Can Cause A Stinger Injury (Burner)?

Stinger Injury (Burners) is caused as a result of an injury to the brachial plexus. This injury can happen when the head is forcefully pushed sideways or down, something like when heading a ball in football. This activity bends the neck forcefully and pinches the adjacent nerves.

Some Of The Risk Factors For Stinger Injury (Burner) Are:

  • Contact Sports: Individuals participating in sports like Hockey or Football where they are subjected to frequent collisions with fellow players are at an increased risk to get this injury.
  • Burners and Stingers can also occur due to a fall on the head like during a football tackle. This is most common in American Football where tackling is a part of the game.
  • Spinal Stenosis: Apart from the sports, Burners and Stingers can also be caused due to spinal stenosis.

What Are The Symptoms Of Stinger Injury (Burner)?

Stinger Injury Symptoms Include:

  • Burning or electric shock sensations
  • Numbness and weakness in the arms immediately after the injury.
  • A sensation of warmth in the neck or shoulder.

How Is Stinger Injury (Burner) Diagnosed?

For a confirmatory diagnosis of Stinger Injury (Burner), the treating physician will take a detailed history of injury. There are no particular studies required in cases of Stingers and Burners. A more thorough evaluation is required in cases of any of the following:

  • Weakness for more than four days
  • Severe neck pain
  • Symptoms in the arms bilaterally
  • Previous history of Burners and Stingers

What Are Treatments For Stinger Injury (Burner)?

Treatment for Stinger Injury (Burners) begins with not allowing the athlete to take part in sporting activity until the symptoms go away. The symptoms may last for a few minutes to a few days. Athletes should refrain from any sort of sporting activities in case they have neck pain or weakness.

In case if an athlete has recurrent Stinger Injury (Burners), then the athlete may be provided with neck rolls or elevated shoulder pads for protection during sporting activities.

Stinger Injury (Burners) usually resolve on their own but the athlete may need to work with a therapist to regain strength and range of motion back in case the symptoms do not go away in several days.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 13, 2018

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