Stinger / Burner Injury - Loss of Strength

OK, I have had a major set back and I need some advice. At 41, making progress is difficult. I spent the past 2 years adding about 25 pounds to my frame and I was only 4 weeks into a cut before I injured myself. I was wrestling with my kids when one of them decided to jump off a couch and land on my head. X-rays showed no damage other than swelling. The doctor indicated is was a common stinger or burner injury that football players often encounter.

It is 2 weeks later and the pain in my left arm/ shoulder is going away so I am starting some light lifting but the strength on my left arm is terrible. I usually overhead dumbbell press 50 lb.s when working out and can only press 20 lb.s a few times with my left arm. There is no pain, just an inability to get the weight up. I am sure this is neurological but I am wondering how long it will last and what to do about it.

My goal was to drop about 10 pounds over 4 to 6 weeks and then go back to gaining. With my injury, I have not been able to train but now I want to get out of this funk and try to get back on track. This sucks and I feel lost. I can use some advise if you have had a similar injury. Thanks and sorry for the long post.

You’ve got a good question. The healing time varies.

Can you swim (breast stroke or freestyle) with that arm yet? Do chin-ups or pull-ups?

At only two weeks you seem like you are making a good recovery for your age. What did your doctor suggest?

Sounds like something in your neck is impinging on a nerve going to your shoulder. Ordinarily there’s pain when nerve gets pinched. I would see a Chiro and/or a neurologist thereafter if it doesn’t get better on it’s own.

skidmark is right about seeing someone for more tests and follow-up if you don’t keep making progress on getting better.

Thanks for the replies. The doctor told me that basically, the brachial plexus nerves on my left side were compressed and irritated. He gave me a list of general exercises but they are pretty easy - things like neck turns , unweighted shrugs, just very basic movements. My doctor is a general practitioner and not a sports medicine guy so he didn’t have much to say about recovery other than he could refer me to rehab if the problem persisted. I am more interested in rehabilitating myself if I can. I have rehabed bad shoulders, bad knees, and bad elbows on my own but I am just clueless about this one.

I can do chin ups and curls at my normal strength levels. It is pushing movements were my strength just isn’t there. For now, I am just going to start out with weight I can handle and see if it improves. If I can’t make any progress on my own, looks like I’ll have to check out rehab. Again, thanks for the replies and if anyone out there has had this happen to them, I would appreciate your replies. Thanks again.

Are these what were prescribed?

The link you posted was dead on what the Doc handed me with the exception of the lat raises. Lat raises aren’t a problem though as I don’t seem to be suffering from a strength deficit on this move. Thanks for the link.

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Hi Bushy,
Thanks for the response. Given your previous posts and your background, I am glad you replied. I have considered chiro but for now I am keeping that as my last option. Maybe you can convince me otherwise. I know you can’t asses my condition over the web but maybe you can give me some general advice. I am trying to work through this on my own and did a light workout yesterday (Mainly push ups, rows, and upper back work). My stregth is getting a little better but it is still 50% at best and today my neck is very stiff. Some soreness in my left shoulder has returned today probably from inflamation caused by my workout. This has to be neurological because I didn’t lift enough weight to strain anything or cause muscle soreness. At this point, I suspect I have soft tissue issues on the left side of my neck. Hence, the swelling and increase in soreness in my shoulder.
Now, here are my questions.

  1. Am I being an idiot and am I risking further injury or more serious problems by doing these light workouts or are my results to be expected?

  2. Should I still be using ice or is heat better? Ice feels good and heat does not. The Doc said ice for 3-4 days after the accident then switch to heat. I just don’t want to prolong my recovery but heat doesn’t feel better.

  3. If I put off seeing a chiro, am I risking further and more permanent damage?

  4. If my issues are soft tissue related, what exactly is a chiro going to do and what benefits could I expect? I would think that they could speed up my recovery by performing ART or similar therapy. Maybe this would be a good enough reason for me to go ahead and see someone.

  5. I am assuming the issue is soft tissue related because X-rays showed no fracture or dislocation. Is this a fair assumption or is there decent probability that such problems would go undetected on X-Rays.

    Appologize for the long post and hope I am not asking to much from you. I would come to your office for a visit if it wasn’t such a long trip.

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Thanks Bushy,
Basically, I have received conflicting information regarding chiros. I get about 50% positive feedback and 50% negative feedback. I am even getting conflicting feedback on the same chiro. I guess my concern is that I don’t know a good chyro. I respect your input and I have more or less decided to seek one out.

My concern is finding a good one but determining that is not so clear (at least to me). I am going to do a little more investigation and see if I can’t locate one. The information you have given me should help. At least it will give me a basis for discussion with any chiro I visit.

Just one question. When you state “manipulate the fixations away”, what exactly should I expect? Everything else seems clear but manipulate is a general term to me. Again, thanks for the information. And yes, atrophy sucks. Not getting to the gym sucks. Sucks bad.

I was just wondering as i have done, what seems like the exact same injury (playing rugby). I was just wondering how long the recovery process took and if there was any advice you could give me. cheers

Hi I have these symptoms and have had them for 7 years since a side on whiplash injury from a car accident, I’m in the uk and have been seen by many physio’s, the last of whom accused me of inventing the symptoms!
I am constantly in pain with burning down the back of my arm and in to my fingers, I have lost strength in my whole arm and have also developed carpal tunnel.
My physio has been giving me stretching exercises but this just seems to make it worse
I have had several X-rays on my neck all were normal, does anyone know if this injury is visible on X-ray, as I know I have an injury but getting anyone to listen to me and believe me is difficult.