Burners & Stingers

Burners and stingers are common injuries in contact or collision sports. A burner or a stinger is an injury to the nerve supply of the upper arm, either at the neck or shoulder. The injury is named for the stinging or burning pain that spreads from the shoulder to the hand. This can feel like an electric shock or lightening bolt down the arm.

In most cases, burners and stingers are temporary and symptoms quickly go away.

Cause

An injury to the brachial plexus can cause a burner or stinger. This often happens when the head is forcefully pushed sideways and down. This bends the neck and pinches the surrounding nerves.

Risk Factors
Contact sports. Athletes who engage in contact sports are more likely to suffer a burner or stinger. In fact, up to 70 percent of all college football players report having experienced a burner or stinger during their 4-year careers.

Burners and stingers often occur with a fall onto the head, such as in a wrestling takedown or a football tackle. In fact, tackling or blocking in American football is the athletic activity that most often causes burners or stingers. Football defensive players and linemen frequently suffer this injury.

Spinal stenosis. In addition to playing contact sports, a small spinal canal may put you at greater risk for a burner or stinger. Athletes with recurrent stingers or burners may have smaller spinal canals than players who do not suffer recurrent injury. This condition is called spinal stenosis.

Shoulder Conditions

  • Bankart Lesion
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Broken Collarbone
  • Burners & Stinger
  • Bursitis
  • Chronic Shoulder Instability
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Blade
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Labral Tear
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder Separation
  • Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP)
  • Throwing Injuries[/li_item|

Shoulder Treatments

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture Surgery
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Broken Collarbone Surgery
  • Bursitis/Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Closed Reduction Shoulder Surgery
  • Labrum Surgery
  • Instability Shoulder Surgery
  • Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Revision Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Shoulder Arthritis Surgery
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Treatment
  • Shoulder Separation Surgery
  • Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Throwing Injury Surgeries

Conservative Treatments

The Orthopedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide conservative treatment options for Shoulder conditions and injuries.

Symptoms

Burner and stinger symptoms typically occur in one arm only. They usually last seconds to minutes, but in 5% to 10 % of cases, they can last hours, days, or even longer. The most common symptoms of a burner or stinger include:

  • A burning or electric shock sensation
  • Arm numbness and weakness immediately following the injury
  • A warm sensation

Diagnosis

Physical Examination & Patient History

During your first visit, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. During the physical examination, your doctor will check all the structures of your injury, and compare them to your non-injured anatomy.  Most injuries can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests Other tests which may help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include:

X-rays. Although they will not show any injury, x-rays can show whether the injury is associated with a broken bone.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. If your injury requires an MRI, this study is utilized to create a better image of soft tissues injuries. However, an MRI may not be required for your particular injury circumstance and will be ordered based on a thorough examination by your Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic Orthopedic physician.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical

Treatment begins by removing the athlete from further injury. Athletes are not allowed to return to sports activity until their 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.

If you have had recurrent stingers, your doctor may recommend a special neck roll or elevated shoulder pads to wear during sports activities.

Examples of special shoulder pads include “spider pads” worn under the shoulder pads or a “cowboy collar” worn on top of shoulder pads.

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

Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic

The Orthopaedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide comprehensive services to all members of the family.
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