Burners and stingers are injuries to the nerves of your upper arm, at either the neck or shoulder. They often occur as a result of any sudden impact where the brachial plexus nerves are stretched or compressed. This sends waves down the nerves in your arm, often causing a burning sensation in the arms and shoulders. Another factor that could put you at risk for this type of injury is having something called spinal stenosis. Simply put, spinal stenosis happens with a small spinal canal. This means that the spinal nerves that are affected by burners and stingers are already placed under more pressure than usual, causing stretched or compressed nerves more easily than those who don’t have spinal stenosis. Burner and stinger symptoms occur in your neck, shoulder, and arm and can include: 

  • A tingling sensation
  • Stinging in the arm or neck 
  • Burning pain
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Stiffness in the neck

The time frame someone may suffer symptoms from can greatly vary. In most cases, the pain is temporary and the symptoms pass sooner than later. However, burners and stingers have the potential to last hours, days, or even longer. If you are experiencing lasting symptoms, it is important to reach out to someone who specializes in shoulder/neck injuries for help. Dr. Larson is a qualified orthopaedic doctor and has years of experience dealing with injuries of the shoulder. 

In an evaluation, Dr. Larson will test your reflexes, look for weakness in the affected arm, and check to make sure no spinal injury has occurred. Once a diagnosis is made, Dr. Larson will create an individualized treatment for you. Treatment is used to improve flexibility, strength, and posture as they are part of the general approach to injuries and are recommended for patients with a burner or stinger. The first goal is to restore pain-free mobility. Treatment may include: 

  • Physical therapy to regain strength and mobility
  • Protective neck or shoulder padding
  • Staying away from contact activity 

While you may not be participating in regular physical activity for a period of time, your safety and recovery is the most important thing to keep in mind. If you continue to participate in activities that can cause similar injuries, you may deal with some more serious injuries in the future, hindering your opportunity for a healthy and active lifestyle. As your symptoms subside and go away, Dr. Larson may recommend a return to your sport or previous lifestyle. This is to be done with caution, as it is common to re-injure the affected nerves and increase the potential permanent nature of this injury. 

Dr. Larson has years of experience and a passion for helping his patients. If you’re suffering from any kind of shoulder, knee, or hip pain, make your health a priority and schedule your appointment with Dr. Larson to get started on your path to recovery.