A stinger, or burner, is a common injury to the nerve supply of the upper arm, resulting from trauma to the neck or shoulder. A stinging or burning pain spreads from the shoulder to the hand. Symptoms of stingers are usually brief but severe injuries can take weeks or months to heal.
An injury to the brachial plexus can cause a stinger. When the head is forcefully pushed sideways and down, the neck is bent and the surrounding nerves are pinched. Stingers often occur in athletes who play contact sports.
These symptoms typically occur for a few seconds or minutes in one arm, although symptoms may occur for hours, days or longer in some cases:
- A burning or electric shock sensation
- Arm numbness and weakness immediately following the injury
- Warm sensation
- Do not participate in sports activities until all symptoms are completely gone
- Use of a neck roll or elevated shoulder pads may be needed during sports activities
- Physical therapy can improve strength and motion if the symptoms last for several days