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Health Information For Parents
Burners (or stingers) are injuries to the nerve network that provides feeling and muscle control in the shoulder, arm, forearm, hand, and fingers. Burners — also called brachial plexus injuries — are common in sports. Most go away pretty quickly.
The brachial plexus nerve network begins with nerve roots at the spinal cord in the neck and reaches to the armpit. Nerves branch out from there and continue down the arm to the forearm, hand, and fingers.
When a strong force increases the angle between the neck and shoulders, the brachial plexus nerves might stretch or tear. The injury may also pull the nerve roots of the brachial plexus from the spinal cord. Damaged nerves carry sensation poorly and make muscle movements weak.
Kids with a burner may complain of:
A severe injury may cause paralysis (loss of movement) of the arm and a loss of sensation.
Football players are most at risk for burners. But they also can happen in kids and teens who participate in:
Burners can also happen in an accident (like a fall from a bike or a motor vehicle crash) when the head is forcefully pushed to one side or something hits the neck and shoulder.
Less common are brachial plexus injuries in newborns. These can happen if something complicates the birth, such as a breech (bottom-first) delivery or a large baby with shoulders too wide to fit through the birth canal.
A doctor will usually recognize a burner from the child or teen’s symptoms and a physical exam. The doctor may check arm strength, reflexes, and range of motion in the arm.
Imaging tests — like X-rays or an MRI — might be ordered if a child has:
The tests can help doctors see the extent of the injury and rule out a more serious condition, such as a spine fracture.
Treatment depends on how severe a burner is. Many mild injuries need no treatment because feeling and muscle control return within a few minutes.
Kids with a lasting burner might need:
in the neck and shoulder.
Most burners go away on their own. Kids with a more serious injury might work with a physical therapist or trainer to keep the muscles strong during healing.
A burner should heal completely before kids return to sports. To make burners less likely, kids who play contact sports should:
During childbirth, a brachial plexus injury can happen if the baby’s neck is stretched to one side.
Burners – also called stingers – usually happen in the neck or shoulder. They take their name from the burning or stinging sensation they cause. Find out how to treat burners – and prevent them.
The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.
If the brain is a central computer that controls all the functions of the body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth to different parts of the body. Find out how they work in this Body Basics article.
Your nerves are like a bunch of wires or cables that send signals back and forth between your brain and the rest of your body.
You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries – and how to avoid getting them.
Sports injuries often can be prevented. Find out how in this article for kids.
Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here’s how to protect your kids.
In wrestling, injuries are bound to happen sometimes. To keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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