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"Stingers" among athletes (football and wrestling especially) are injuries to the brachial plexus, a web of nerves arising from the spinal cord in the neck region and supplying the upper extremities. It lies roughly between the neck and clavicle (collarbone). Either violent stretching or compression of these nerves can cause injury. The athlete complains of immediate burning pain down the shoulder and arm, with weakness of the shoulder and arm muscles. The symptoms usually resolve within a few minutes, but weakness can last up to several weeks.
The athlete is kept out of the game at least until the pain and weakness symptoms have completely disappeared, and often can reenter the game. However, if there is lingering neck pain, limited neck mobility, involvement of both arms, or persistent pain the athlete should not return to competition and may need further referral for possible cervical spine injury.