Injury: Stinger

What is a Neck Stinger?
Often referred to as a “burner”, a neck stinger is most commonly suffered in football, but is also seen in other high contact sports. A stinger is a temporary or acute pain that causes a burning or shocking sensation that starts in the head and runs down into the shoulder and in some instances travels down into the arm. Severe neck stingers can often be initially mistaken as paralysis, but neck stingers will typically go away within a matter of minutes.

Medical Definition of a Neck Stinger
Burners or Stingers are transient neck injuries to the upper trunk of the brachial plexus involving the C5 and C6 nerve roots. The most common mechanism of injury is caused by a traction force when the shoulder is forcefully depressed and the head and neck are tilted toward the opposite side. It is also common to suffer from a neck stinger when there is compression of the upper plexus between a shoulder pad and the shoulder blade. Stingers are often seen amongst college and professional athletes in high contact sports, especially football.

- Burner
- Brachial Plexopathy

What are the symptoms of a Neck Stinger?
- Burning shoulder pain
- Pain radiating down the arm
- Weakness in the arm and shoulder
- Individual tends to hold arm on affected side

Related Injuries
- Neck Fracture

Treatment of Neck Stinger
- Complete resolution of pain and neurologic symptoms before athlete is able to return to play.
Strengthening exercises of the shoulder and arm.
- Light
exercises to help maintain range of motion.
- Seeking treatment at a pain clinic may prove to be beneficial.

Related Anatomy
- Shoulder Blade
Spinal Cord

- Football

Greene W.B. (Ed). (2001). Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care.Rosemont, Il: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (121-123)