Burner/Stingers: We Can Help

Unless you are well versed in football, you likely haven’t heard of a burner/stinger.

Let’s start with the technical definition: The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that send signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm, and hand. When you have a brachial plexus injury or a BPI, it is when these nerves are stretched, compressed, or ripped apart from the spinal cord. When these occur, the player will feel something similar to an electrical shock on their arm, typically followed by numbness and/or weakness in the arm. This happens when the head is pushed to the side or down, and most have been considered to be part of the game and relatively harmless. And realistically, having one or two most likely are relatively harmless if treated correctly with proper recovery.

There are two main risks of the burner stinger, and they are interrelated:

  • Most trainers and players will agree that they go underreported, and 65% of players at a college level will experience in their career
  • 87% rate of reoccurrence

These two points indicate we have a larger problem here. Well over half of our players are experiencing a BPI and it’s likely that they haven’t had it happen just one time.

We have got to do better at protecting our players. And the mantra of, “walk it off, son” needs to get thrown in the trash.This isn’t something you walk off and jump back in the game. For all too long, that’s the main treatment that was used for these injuries. We know now that ongoing BPI’s lead to loss of feeling, muscle atrophy, and even permanent disability.

If you’ve experienced BPI’s, talk to your trainer and your doctor. Ask questions. And most importantly, listen to your body. If you or your trainer would like to learn more, please contact us and we’ll connect you to resources to help.