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Stinger Injuries in Football 

Dr Paul McDonough MD

Dr. Paul McDonough specializes in conditions that affect the neck and back. By treating a wide variety of spine issues, including football injuries, Paul McDonough, MD, helps his patients return to optimal spine health.

As a contact sport that involves tackling and collisions, football has the potential for very serious spinal injuries. However, while severe injuries such as paralysis and broken bones may immediately come to mind, football players more often experience less serious spine issues that are also problematic. People commonly refer to one type of these injuries as a stinger.

A stinger, or nerve pinch injury, is an injury that affects the neck and nearby areas. It can occur if the head is forced backwards or sideways in a certain way and often occurs among linebackers or defensive backs due to contact with other players during the game. Stingers can result in sudden pain and a “stinging” feeling in an arm. Many times, this discomfort goes away on its own. However, the player has a good chance of experiencing this type of injury again, and if left untreated over time, stingers can have long-term effects. For instance, they can cause nerve damage leading to ongoing weakness in the affected arm.

Players who have experienced sudden pain or stinging sensations during a game should seek the guidance of a sports therapist and get additional treatment and diagnoses as necessary. They should not return to playing unless they have been properly cleared.


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