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Brachial Neuropraxia in Canadian Atlantic University Sport Football Players: What Is the Incidence of “Stingers”?

Charbonneau, Rebecca M. E. MD*; McVeigh, Sonja A. MD*; Thompson, Kara MSc

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 472–477
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3182699ed5
Original Research

Objectives: The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the incidence of brachial neuropraxia (stingers) among varsity football players during the 2010 season; (2) to determine if associations exist between sustaining a stinger and previous history of stingers, years played, equipment, age, body mass index (BMI), and conditioning; and (3) to provide descriptive statistics regarding stingers and position played, symptoms, activity during injury, mechanism of tackling, and reporting of stingers.

Design: Retrospective.

Setting: Canadian Atlantic University Sport football league.

Participants: Two hundred forty-four players.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Two written questionnaires.

Main Outcome Measures: Number of players experiencing stingers that occurred during the 2010 season.

Results: The incidence was 26% (64 of 244). A multivariate analysis revealed that previous history of a stinger (P < 0.0001) and years played (P = 0.0018) were associated with sustaining a stinger. There was no statistically significant effect related to additional equipment, a player's age, BMI, or participation in a strength training program. Linebackers, offensive linemen, and wide receivers had the highest incidence of stingers. The most frequent symptoms reported were tingling, numbness, burning, and weakness. Of all stingers sustained, only 59% (38 of 64) were reported to medical staff.

Conclusions: Stingers are a common injury in Canadian university football and are underreported to medical staff. Education of players at increased risk is needed.

Divisions of *Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Biostatistics, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Corresponding Author: Rebecca M. E. Charbonneau, MD, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Site, 1341 Summer St, Halifax NS B3H 4K4, Canada (

Funded in part by a grant from Capital Health Research Fund.

We certify that no party having a direct interest in the results of the research supporting this article has or will confer a benefit on us or on any organization with which we are associated. We certify that all financial and material support for this research and work are clearly identified in the title page of the article.

Presented in part at the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM) Annual Symposium; July 14–16, 2011, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received February 5, 2012

Accepted July 12, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.