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Stingers are neck injuries that cause acute pain, that feels like a burning, pinching or shock that runs from the base of the skull to the shoulder or along the neck. This pain is quite intense, and may be frightening, but subsides quickly. It is thought to be caused when a quick movement causes the compression or pinching of the bundle of nerves (brachial plexus) that run from the back of the neck into the arm. This often occurs from a twisting of the neck and head, or an impact from the side (often in football). In addition to an acute pain and shock from the shoulder down into the arm and fingers, there may be numbness, burning or weakness in the arm. Usually this acute pain lasts only a minutes or two and goes away completely.


These are common football injuries, but many people experience the sensation during car accidents, or by simply turning the head quickly.

Usually the pain subsides in a minute without any long-term problems. See a physician if the injury that caused the stinger was severe (such as an impact) to rule out a serious condition such as a slipped disk or spinal cord problem. Seek immediate medical attention if both of your arms are affected, or received a blow to the head.

If this occurs during sports, you need to be sure all your symptoms resolve entirely before you return to the game. If you return too quickly, the risk of re-injury is high.


  • Use protective gear (a collar for football) and proper sports technique
  • Avoid awkward positions of the head an neck
  • Stretch your neck muscles prior to activity
  • Strengthen your neck, back and shoulder muscles
  • Return to activity slowly after sustaining a stinger
  • See a physician if you experience recurrent stingers




Concussions are traumatic head injuries that occur from both mild and severe blows to the head. Some head injuries may appear to be mild but research is finding that concussions can have serious, long-term effects, especially repeat head injuries or cumulative concussions.

A concussion is typically caused by a severe head trauma during which the brain moves violently within the skull. The brain cells all fire at once, much like a seizure. Some studies show that patients who suffer a concussion appear to have the brain activity of people in a coma.

A concussion may result from a fall in which the head strikes against an object or a moving object strikes the head. A suddenly induced turning movement such as a blow that twists the head (like a punch to the side of the face) is more likely to produce unconsciousness. However, significant jarring in any direction can produce unconsciousness.

Signs and Symptoms /Grades of Concussions

There is no standard classification system for concussions. Four of the leading researchers in head injuries maintain their own classification system. The symptoms of each degree of concussion are often very similar, and one can be confused when accessing a head injury.

Concussions can be divided into five grades, 0 thru 4. Grade 0 results when the head is struck or moved rapidly. It is characterized by a post injury headache and difficulty with concentration. The athlete may not notice any other symptoms. Grade 1 concussions occur in the same manner but the athlete may appear stunned or dazed. There is no loss of consciousness (LOC), and sensory difficulties clear in less than one minute. Grade 1 concussions are the typical “I got my bell rung” description from the athlete.

Grade 2 concussions are characterized by headache, cloudy senses lasting longer than one minute, and no LOC. The athlete may have other symptoms including, tinnitus, amnesia, irritability, confusion, or dizziness. One, all or none of these symptoms could be present.

Grade 3 concussions are characterized by LOC of less than one minute, the athlete will not be comatose, and exhibit the same symptoms as a grade 2 concussion. Grade 4 concussions are characterized by LOC of greater than one minute. The athlete will not be comatose, and will also exhibit the symptoms of the grade 2 and 3 concussions.

Treatment of Concussion
If a head injury causes unconsciousness, immediate medical attention is required for evaluation of the injury. Most likely that player should not return to the sport for up to three months. Studies have shown that there is an increased rate of brain injury, depression and other serious effects from concussions. An initial baseline neurological evaluation by a physician will determines the appropriate treatment for an uncomplicated concussion.

Preventing Sports-Related Concussion
Because signs of a mild concussion -- confusion, disorientation and memory loss -- may disappear within minutes and may not be reported by the athlete, athletes are often allowed to continue playing or return to a game before their brain has had adequate time to heal.




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