When a player sustains a stinger, it is possible that another injury to the neck, shoulder, and/or head may occur at the same time. It is important to be aware of these types of injuries as they may need additional treatment and/or precautions.

Other injuries that may occur at the same time as a stinger include:

Spinal cord injury

If the pain and/or neurological symptoms extend on both sides of the body, or to both the arms and the legs, it is possible that the spinal cord has been injured. In this situation, the injured person should be kept immobilized and taken to the hospital immediately as a precaution. It is important to have an imaging study of the spinal cord prior to consideration for return to play.



Concussion symptoms include dizziness, headache, sleepiness, blurry vision, and memory loss.

See What You Need to Know About Concussions

Nerve root injury

Pain and neurological symptoms in the shoulder, arm, and hand can develop if a nerve root has been irritated or if it is compressed, as in the case of a herniated disc. The pain radiates to other parts of the body and is known as radiculopathy.

Spinal fracture

A fracture could occur from the same impact that caused the stinger.

Soft tissue damage

The sudden impact can cause damage to the ligaments (the tissue connecting two bones) of the cervical spine.


Because of the risk of additional injuries that occur at the same time as a stinger, when treating an athlete who has a stinger the doctor and/or coaches and trainers need to take appropriate precautions to protect the spine.

An X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, or electromyography may be used to determine both the extent of the stinger damage and to see whether a more serious injury has also occurred. This testing is recommended for symptoms lasting for more than two weeks.

Dr. Michael Hisey is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery. One of his main areas focus is minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. Dr. Hisey joined the Texas Back Institute in 1999, where he completed his Fellowship in Spine Surgery and later served as President from 2010 to 2013. He is the official spine specialist for the FC Dallas soccer organization.