The Burner or Stinger is a nerve injury commonly found in sportspersons engaged in collision sports such a football, ice hockey, wrestling or rugby. The nerves that cause sensation as well as movement in the arms are bundled at a point between the shoulders and neck called the Brachial Plexus. When a player falls, the top of the shoulder gets hit and the neck as well as the arm gets stretched in opposite directions, causing injury to the nerves at the Brachial Plexus. The effect of a Burner generally lasts for a few minutes but in some cases it may stay for hours and days. If the Burner or Stinger becomes a recurring problem, it may lead to a chronic neurologic syndrome.


  • Physical collision or falling on the head during sports
  • Spinal Stenosis (constricted spinal canal)
  • Injury/trauma to the Brachial Plexus
  • Overstretching or pushing of the head and neck in opposite direction


  • Sharp burning or stinging sensation in the affected arm
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Pain in the neck
  • Difficulty in neck and head movement
  • Extreme pain in both arms
  • Tingling feeling or sensation of pins stinging in the neck, fingers and hand
  • Feeling of warmth in the affected arm
  • The arm may go limp and need to be held close to the body


Usually the symptoms of a Burner do not persist for long and the athlete can resume playing soon after the injury. However, if the pain lasts for a longer duration or it becomes recurrent, a detailed diagnosis by a doctor becomes mandatory. The doctor will assess the severity of pain, numbness or muscular weakness, movement of neck and head, cause and process of injury before outlining a treatment procedure to be followed. MRI or X-ray imagings are generally not required but may be prescribed if the patient complains of blurred speech/memory loss/inability to think/ persistent weakness or pain.


  • The doctor may ask the athlete to discontinue sports activities till the symptoms persist.
  • Wearing shoulder pads, cowboy collar, cervical collars, butterfly restrictors or other protective gear.
  • Application of ice or heat pads.
  • Prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.
  • Restricted movement of the affected arm
  • Strengthening of the affected muscles by training under a therapist/instructor
  • Surgical intervention is required only if conservative methods fail or the injury is severe

We, at OrthoTexas, provide treatment for Burners and Stingers.