Stingers/Burners get their name from the burning or stinging sensation felt in the neck, back, or shoulders. The sensation comes from the pinching or stretching of the Brachial Plexus by surrounding bones, muscles, or tissues. The Brachial Plexus is a bundle of nerves extending from the neck to the arms and controls the movement and sensations in the shoulders, arms, and hands. Stingers/Burners can be sustained in one of three ways, the Brachial Plexus may be stretched or directly hit, or the neck may be forced back while the corresponding arm is forced downward. This can result in severe bone and nerve damage. In an automobile accident, Stingers/Burners may result from T-bone and read-end accidents.
This injury is typically accompanied by other injuries such as whiplash, disc protrusions, herniated discs, fractures, ligament tears, and muscle spasms. Stingers/Burners can cause complete or transient paralysis, permanent nerve damage, and the weakening of the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles. These conditions increase the risk of developing a more serious shoulder injury.
- Burning or Electric Shock Sensations
- Arm Numbness and Weakness
- Warm Sensations
- Transient Paresthesia in the Hands/Arms
- Stiffness in the Neck
- Cramping/Muscle Spasms in Neck
You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms that last more than a few days, or if you have recurring stingers/burners. Upon examination, your physician will test your reflexes, check for signs of weakness in your arms or shoulders, and ensure no spinal injury has occurred.
You may need to get an X-ray to rule out the possibility of internal fractures. To treat the swelling that often accompanies stingers/burners, it is recommended that you apply ice and compression as needed to the affected areas. However, ice and compression should be used sparingly, as they both will eventually lead to decreased blood flow to the affected area. This is counterproductive, as the blood carries oxygen and nutrients necessary for injury rehabilitation. Treatment may also consist of physical therapy, which restores the body’s proper range of motion, as well as increases blood and lymphatic fluid circulation. Failing to get treatment can result in permanent nerve damage or recurrent stingers/burners.
Keeping good posture, improving flexibility, and improving your range of motion are all great ways to prevent stingers/burners. Also, good posture will relieve some of the weight that the head puts on the nerves of the neck. With less weight on the neck, the pressure on the Brachial Plexus will decrease; greatly reducing the likelihood of the nerve bundle stretching or compressing beyond its capabilities. Flexibility as well as increasing your range of motion will help you avoid muscle stiffness and weakness. Having stronger and more flexible muscles will further protect you from sustaining a stinger/burner.
Are you experiencing symptoms of Stingers/Burners? If so, we highly recommend having a medical examination by a doctor. Do not ignore your pain or delay your care, pain relief is possible. Call 801-683-1948 to set up a no-cost medical exam or to schedule a free thirty-minute massage.