By Dr. Brian Chinn
A Stinger or Burner, is named after the feelings and symptoms associated with the injury to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is made up of a network of nerve fibers that supply feeling to and control the function of your arms. The injury itself causes stinging and/or burning that is present in the neck that often radiates down to the shoulder and into the arm on one side (depending on the side of injury). It can be intensely painful and is most often seen in sports like football or wrestling. The athlete falls or gets hit in such a way on the shoulder and neck that causes severe stretching of the nerves, which causes trauma to the brachial plexus. A stinger may also occur as a result of a collision or a blow directly to the area of the brachial plexus causing injury to the nerves.
If the injury is severe enough, it can result in the paralysis or paresthesia (loss of sensation) of the entire arm. These symptoms usually are resolved rather quickly, but other symptoms like acute pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness can last up to a year after the injury occurs.
First, it is important to be evaluated for any serious trauma such as severe spinal cord injury, neck fracture, brain injury, or other vascular injury. When these have been ruled out, there are excellent conservative methods of treatment.
A visit to the Chiropractor is incredibly beneficial to help restore proper function in the neck and help to alleviate tension and pressure where we don’t want it. Depending on the severity, your Chiropractor may ask you to stop any strenuous activity or sports until your symptoms have resolved. In order to allow the body to heal, we want to avoid activities that will cause any aggravation of symptoms.
Treatment will often include different therapeutic modalities used to aid in the healing of soft tissues that were damaged during the injury. Adjustments, when necessary, can provide tremendous relief from symptoms caused by a stinger and restore healthy motion to the joints while relieving pressure on the nerves. As you heal, it is important to address muscle imbalances created by the injury, and work to restore strength to the damaged soft tissues with targeted exercises specific to your needs as a patient.
If you have had a Stinger injury, your Chiropractor can help! As always, let us know if you have any questions and make an appointment if you would like an evaluation.
Thanks for taking the time to learn about stinger’s and how Chiropractic care can help!
-Dr. Brian Chinn
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