The terms “burner” and “stinger” are used interchangeably to refer to the sensation of burning pain radiating or spreading from the neck and shoulder down to the hand. These injuries are most commonly experienced by football players, but other athletes such as hockey players, wrestlers, lacrosse players, gymnasts and even divers may also have these symptoms.
A burner happens when nerves in the neck or shoulder area have sustained an injury. This can happen when the shoulder is pushed backward or the head and neck is forcibly pushed to the side. The burning or stinging sensation may also have a “pins and needles” type of feeling, and can be accompanied by numbness, reduced range of motion of the head, neck, shoulder, arm or hand, or the inability to lift or hold something.
Some symptoms are temporary and self-resolving. However, when the causal injury is repeated, chronic health issues can result.