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Burners and Stringers

What are Burners and Stingers?

Burners and stingers are common neck or shoulder injuries characterized by intense burning or stinging pain which can radiate from the neck to the hand.

Causes of Burners and Stingers

They are caused by sudden movement or a direct blow to the neck, resulting in an injury to the brachial plexus, a group of nerves that run from the neck to the arm, transmitting sensory and motor sensations to the arm. This injury is commonly associated with contact sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling, and rugby.

Symptoms of Burners and Stingers

The most common symptom of burners and stingers is pain that usually lasts for a short period of time after which the symptoms resolve. It may also be associated with numbness or weakness of the affected arm. In a few cases, it may last for a longer duration of time. Having a narrow spinal canal (spinal stenosis) increases your risk of recurrent burners and stingers.

Diagnosis of Burners and Stingers

The diagnosis of burners and stingers is usually made based on the symptoms and nature of the injury. Imaging studies are usually not required.

Treatments for Burners and Stingers

Burners and stingers usually resolve without any treatment. However, in a few instances, the symptoms may persist longer. In such cases, as well as in those with recurrent burners and stingers, immediate medical attention is required to determine any other significant injury. Physical therapy can also be considered in such cases.
If you are an athlete, you should ensure complete recovery from burners and stingers before you return to active sports as the risk of re-injury is very high. If you experience recurrent burners and stingers, you are advised to wear a special neck roll or elevated shoulder pad while playing. Spider pads or a cowboy collar may also be recommended in a few cases.

Prevention of Burners and Stingers

Correct use of protective gear and proper sports technique help prevent such injuries.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association
  • Coa