If you have ever played football, wresting, lacrosse, or hockey you may be familiar with the terms “burner” and “stinger.” Not the result of touching a hot surface or a bee sting, a burner is an intense pain due to the nerves in the neck and the arm being stretched or compressed. Contact sports are most notorious for being the cause of this injury.
At ONE Brain and Spine Center, Dr. Burak Ozgur and the entire medical team diagnose and treat patients with similar sports related injuries. By accurately targeting the pain, physicians can determine which plan of action will best treat the condition and reduce pain.
When an individual sustains a burner, they will typically feel a tingling sensation down their arm. Coupled with this feeling, a burning or stinging pain may be felt from the neck down the arm and possibly to the hand. Many patients describe the feeling of pins and needles. Burners may cause the arm to feel numb and weak. Following the injury, a patient may feel neck pain and spasms.
If a burner is left untreated, there could be severe neurologic damage. If an athlete sustains this kind of injury, they should seek medical attention immediately and not return to their sport until treated. A physician can test and evaluate the severity of the burner. Interestingly, burners can be easily confused with other neck injuries. Patients should give detailed descriptions of their pain so a doctor can accurately diagnose the injury. If an athlete feels tenderness in the bones of the neck, a doctor should evaluate the athlete for a possible spinal cord injury.
In most cases, treatment for a burner will include ice therapy for 20 minute intervals, three or four times a day. A patient may find pain relief with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. With the help and recommendation of a physician, the athlete should not return to their sport until they have full sensation and strength back.
To prevent burners and further nerve damage, athletes should always be armed with safety equipment. Shoulder pads and helmets are essential to prevent and reduce the risk of head or neck injuries. Proper tackling equipment helps limit excess motion of the neck and reduces the stretch/compression to the nerves.
Athletes should always be prepared and confident when entering a sport. If you do not feel comfortable in the position you are in, speak up. ONE Brain and Spine
ONE Brain & Spine Center is the premier spine and brain center in Irvine, California, offering minimally invasive spine surgeries and minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (949) 383-4190.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.