August 24th, 2012

Health N' Sports: Shoulder Stingers

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Shoulder Stingers
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Recognizing shoulder stingers and treatment for them

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Shoulder Stinger                           
The Stinger, also known as a burner, is a common injury in contact sports, especially football. The injury occurs when the athlete makes a hard hit using his shoulder. The direct blow to the top of the shoulder drives the shoulder down and causes the neck to be forcefully bent away. This mechanism causes a stretch or compression of the brachial plexis. The brachial plexis is a network of nerves exiting from the spinal cord and run down the arm. The mechanism described above, produces an intense electrical shock type feeling (like pins and needles), usually with some numbness and loss of strength.

The athlete will usually be seen running off the field with their arm hanging down at his/her side, unable to move it. The pain and other symptoms are usually transitory, but weakness may persist for minutes, days, weeks and possible months.

Return to play:
When examined by a doctor, physical therapist or athletic trainer, if motion and strength have returned to normal, they can resume play. This may be minutes after, the next day or week. The athlete must be cleared before returning to play.

Preventing recurrent Stingers is important. Subsequent injuries tend to be increasingly more severe and can lead to more permanent damage. Proper tackling techniques, proper fitting of shoulder pads and neck roll if used are important.

Thomas Mooney, PT

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic & Sports Rehab Center

Main Office: 502-897-1794

Physical Therapy: 502-897-1790


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