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by Smith CM




You will be asked 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



The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Health Canada



Burners. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Nov 1;60(7):2042. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2014.

Burners and stingers. American Academy of Orthopedic surgeons website. Available at: Updated May 2010. Accessed September 9, 2014.

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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