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What You Need to Know About Burners and Stingers

By Madhusudhan Tammisetti

The medical term for burners and stingers is brachial plexopathy. People suffering from burners and stingers experience intense pain that arises as the nerves situated between the neck and arm are compressed or stretched. This usually happens in contact sports such as football when the shoulder may be forced backward, or the head and neck are forcefully pushed to the side. Burners are particularly prominent among football players. Burners may also be found by those participating in wrestling, hockey, diving, and lacrosse.

Brachial plexopathy is a type of peripheral neuropathy that's caused by brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a set of nerves located between the C5 and T1 vertebrae. These nerves then pass through the shoulder and arm and reach the hand.

What Are the Symptoms?

Brachial plexopathy symptoms include a feeling of electrical shock or burning sensation that a patient may experience from the neck to the arm and the hand.

For instance, in rugby and football tackling, the players may experience traumatic impact or compression in the neck. The sensation typically lasts a few seconds to a minute or two, but it may last much longer on rare occasions.

The patient may experience a warm sensation in the arm, and there may be some feeling of numbness or weakness after the initial pain has receded.

Depending on the time taken for the pain to last from a few seconds to few minutes, stingers and burners may range from minor to extremely severe injuries.

It's important to check whether the condition has spiraled down to serious spinal cord injuries, neck fractures, brain injury, or blood vessel damage. If there are some signs of more severe injuries, such as concussions, the players should be given rest for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Visit a chiropractor if symptoms continue for more than two days. A neck roll may help those suffering from recurring stingers or burners minimize the impact on the area and stop over-stretching.

Your chiropractor may recommend you stop training or playing until the symptoms of weakness, numbness, burning, or stinging sensation have gone. Recurring burners and stingers may cause permanent neurologic defects. Depending on the severity of the injury, the chiropractor may recommend a complete rest from playing contact sports.

Patients suffering from recurring burners and stingers may start a gentle fitness regimen as long as symptoms permit, but any activities that further aggravates the symptoms should be avoided. Have patience! Sometimes it takes some time and rest to recover from nerve injuries, and no amount of physical exercise can speed up the healing process.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Happy Valley, Ore.

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