What is a Stinger Injury?

Athletes that participate in contact sports or individuals who were involved in traumatic accidents have been shown to receive particular injuries like shoulder and neck stingers. Known as a stinger injury, this kind of injury can create short-term problems that resolve quickly or long-term issues that are debilitating and crippling. Hence the team at Broadview Spine & Health Centre would like you to know all there is to know about stinger injuries.

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What is a Stinger Injury?

Neck stinger injury shoulderA stinger injury, like a shoulder or neck stinger, is an injury to the brachial plexus that damages the nerves in the neck and shoulder area. Brachial plexus nerves are a network of nerves that regulate movement and sensation in the upper extremities. Stinger injuries occur when they are squeezed too tightly or stretched too much. The name "stinger" was given to the injury in reference to the distinctive burning or stinging sensation that might extend from the neck down to the arm. High-impact activities, especially contact sports like football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey, are common causes of stinger injuries. A quick, powerful impact or collision that forces the head to one side can easily lead to a neck stinger or other stinger injuries.  


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Symptoms of Stinger Injuries

These can vary due to many factors but the most common signs of shoulder and neck stingers include:

Burning or Stinging Sensation

One of the most common signs of a stinger injury is a severe, burning, or stinging feeling that extends from the neck down to the arm. Many people compare the sensation to an electric shock or severe pins and needles. It normally only affects one side of the neck, shoulder, or arm, but it can sometimes affect a wider area.

Tingling or Numbness

Another symptom of stinger injuries is numbness or tingling in the afflicted arm or hand, in addition to the burning or stinging sensation. This may manifest as numbness or a "pins and needles" sensation. Numbness or tingling may be present from the shoulder to the fingers and its severity might change.

Difficulty with Coordination

Stinger injuries can affect fine motor abilities and coordination. When performing actions that call for accuracy or coordination, such as writing or handling small items, those with shoulder or neck stingers may find it challenging.


Although it isn't always the case, discomfort can accompany stinger injuries. From mild to severe, the pain may be restricted to the location of the injury, such as the neck or shoulder region, or it may be more diffuse. Certain postures or movements may make the discomfort worse.

Treatments for Stinger Injuries

Most stinger injuries are transitory and can resolve on their own over a short amount of time, usually between minutes to days. It's crucial to give the injured region enough time to rest and to refrain from any activities that can re-injure or aggravate it throughout the healing process. This enables the brachial plexus nerves to heal from any compression or stretching that happened during the initial injury.

It is crucial to remember that not all stinger injuries heal fast or without issues. In certain circumstances, symptoms may last longer or come back after repeated injuries. A medical examination by a healthcare expert is required to establish the best course of treatment or rehabilitation if the symptoms are severe, protracted, or recurrent and to determine the severity of the damage.

The following are some typical methods for treating stinger injuries:

Rest and Refrain from Activity Immediately

After suffering a shoulder or neck stinger injury, it's imperative to immediately stop playing any more sports or engaging in any other activities. This enables the nerves and tissues that are damaged to rest and heal.

Ice Application

Applying ice to the injured region can decrease pain, edema, and inflammation. Ice packs or cold compresses can be used for 15-20 minutes at a time throughout the injury's acute phase, multiple times each day.


To aid with pain relief and inflammation reduction, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be advised. It is crucial to adhere to the suggested dosage and seek medical advice if there are any contraindications or issues.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Exercises

In some instances, a medical expert may recommend particular exercises to aid in recovery, regain strength, increase range of motion, and improve coordination in the injured arm. Gentle stretching, range-of-motion exercises, strengthening activities, and nerve gliding movements can all be a part of physical therapy. Reintroducing exercise and movement is intended to be done gradually and securely.

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Neck stinger injuries, like shoulder and neck stingers, may cause short-term discomfort and functional limitations. However, with proper medical care and therapy, individuals can expect to regain their normal range of motion and strength.

For those experiencing the discomfort of a neck stinger or seeking comprehensive care for spine-related issues, please contact us at Broadview Spine & Health Centre. We're your trusted partner in spinal health. Our professionals will conduct a thorough examination and develop a tailored treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Whether you're an athlete, recovering from an injury, or working on improving your spinal health, we're here to assist you on your journey to wellness.