Key Points

• "Stingers" result from a blow to the neck and shoulders with transient unilateral upper extremity pain and paresthesias resolving in minutes.


Axial loading is the most common mechanism for catastrophic injury to the cervical spine during sports competition. Any athlete with significant neck or spine pain, diminished level of consciousness, or significant neurologic deficits should be immobilized and prepared for transport.

Unconscious athletes are presumed to have unstable spine injuries until proven otherwise.

The football helmet in a downed player wearing shoulder pads should not be removed to avoid hyperextension of the neck and secondary injury to the cervical spine.

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