A stinger is the term used to describe symptoms from a certain type of impact injury to the neck. It is a common injury in football, rugby, and other contact sports that involve impact to the head and neck.
A stinger most commonly occurs when the head is forced sideways and away from the shoulder or pushed backward. It can also be caused by a downward force to the shoulder. This sudden force pinches—or acutely stretches—the nerves in the neck. When the nerves are suddenly impacted like this, stinging, burning, and/or other sensations may radiate along the path of the nerve into the arm. Typically, the pain lasts 10 seconds or less, but sometimes continues for hours or even days.