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The 'Burner' a Common Nerve Injury in Contact Sport Athletes

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But recommending or requiring every football player, for instance, to wear equipment to protect from burners would be impractical, according to Kuhlman. "Players at the skill positions like wide receiver or quarterback generally desire greater rotational motion of the neck to see the ball, to observe opponents, and to play their positions. Wearing a neck roll or cowboy collar will limit some of that rotational motion and feel cumbersome," he tells WebMD. "The players at positions most at risk for this injury -- namely those who block and tackle the most -- should consider wearing this type of equipment, even in the absence of identified risk factors."

In addition to using the proper protective gear, the authors caution that flexibility and strength of the neck, shoulder, and arms are very important in determining the severity of the condition. They recommend stretching exercises and a 'chest-out' posture along with muscle-building exercises to minimize the chances of this injury.

Vital Information:

  • Burners are injuries caused by trauma to the neck and shoulder that result in a burning pain that travels down the arm, often accompanied by numbness and weakness.
  • Symptoms are usually short-lived, but severe injuries can last for weeks or months, and athletes should not return to playing contact sports until full range of motion is regained.
  • Experts advise that protective equipment, such as a neck roll or cowboy collar, be worn by athletes who are at high risk for sustaining burners.

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