“Burners” and “Stingers”

“Burners” and “stingers” are injuries to the nerve supply of the upper limb, either at the neck or shoulder, most commonly caused by traction forces to the neck during contact or collision sports. A burning or “electric shock” sensation usually accompanies the injury, then, immediate numbness or weakness. In most cases, the injuries are temporary and symptoms resolve quickly, within seconds or minutes, although in 5 to 10 percent of cases, they can last hours, days, or longer.

Treatment

Treatment begins by removing the athlete from the activity. Athletes are not allowed to return to sports activity until symptoms are completely gone. This can take a few minutes or several days. Athletes should never be allowed to return to sports if they have weakness or neck pain.

Although the injury gets better with time, the athlete may need to work with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to regain strength and motion if the symptoms last for several days.

Prevention

To prevent most shoulder injuries, use correct technique at all times, along with a stretching and strengthening program that also includes the muscles of the neck.

Content on this page is for informational purposes only. If injured, please consult a physician.

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