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by Smith CM




The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. One of the most important questions is whether symptoms occur in one arm only or in both arms at the same time. Symptoms in more than one limb may be more serious. This may need more extensive evaluation.
The doctor will examine you for:
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Neck and arm range of motion
  • Strength in the arm and hand
  • Arm reflexes
  • Sensation in the shoulder and hand
For serious burners you may have an electromyogram (EMG). This is a test of the electrical activity of the muscle. It can help to determine the extent of the injury.
It is important to make sure symptoms are due to burners and not a more serious injury to the spinal cord. Early recognition of this condition can prevent reinjury and possible paralysis. Careful post-injury evaluation can help prevent permanent damage.


Some burners last only a few minutes. These will not need medical treatment.
Treatments options include:


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naprosyn, may be used to reduce discomfort.


Icing the neck as needed may help to reduce discomfort.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine



Family Physician

Health Canada



American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed November 10, 2012.

Burners. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated February 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.

Burners and stinger. American Academy of Orthopedic surgeons website. Available at: Updated May 2010. Accessed November 10, 2012.

Dimberg EL, Ted M. Burns TM. Management of common neurologic conditions in sports. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2005;24(3).

Kasow DB, Curl WW. "Stingers" in adolescent athletes. Instr Course Lect. 2006;55:711-716.

Weinberg J, Rokito S, et al. Etiology, treatment, and prevention of athletic "stingers". Clin Sports Med. 2003 Jul;22(3):493-500, viii.


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