As football season rolls along we are seeing a fair number of injuries called “stingers”, also known as “burners”. The injury is named for the stinging or burning pain that spreads from the shoulder to the hand. This can feel like an electric shock down the arm. Stingers are fairly common injuries in collision sport athletes, and fortunately most of these injuries are temporary with rapid return to normal function. A stinger occurs when there is an injury to the network of nerves surrounding the neck and traveling to the shoulder, arm, and hand. In football we commonly see stingers when the neck is stretched to the side during a tackle. We will also see stingers occasionally when the side of the player’s head makes contact with the ground.
Shoulder instability is a common occurrence with collision-based sports such as tackle football and rugby. Extensive available data suggests that repeat instability events for high school age athletes is exceptionally common, and for that reason orthopedic surgeons have become more likely to recommend surgery for first time shoulder instability.
However, recently published data shows that shoulder instability events can often be managed non-surgically with high rates of successful return in the same season. Furthermore one study indicates a very high rate of continued sport participation in the following season. This study shows that first time shoulder instability for athletes participating in collision-based sports can be managed without surgery in a much higher percentage of patients than we have previously believed.
We see a lot of ankle sprains in our clinical practices, and if they make their way to the orthopedic surgeon’s office it generally means it was a significant injury. Severe ankle sprains can take many weeks to properly heal, can be costly to treat, and can place the athlete at risk for future ankle sprains. What then can we do try reduce the number of ankle sprains, or reduce the severity of an ankle sprain if one does happen?
One simple and cost effective option is to wear a lace-up ankle brace. These braces are effective in stabilizing the ankle in side-to-side and landing movements (the type of movements typically risky for ankle sprains) but allow excellent movement for straight ahead activities such as sprinting and jumping.