JOURNAL ARTICLE

Incidence of Stingers in Young Rugby Players

Takayuki Kawasaki, Chihiro Ota, Takeshi Yoneda, Nobukazu Maki, Shingo Urayama, Masashi Nagao, Masataka Nagayama, Takefumi Kaketa, Yuji Takazawa, Kazuo Kaneko
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2015, 43 (11): 2809-15
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BACKGROUND: A stinger is a type of neurapraxia of the cervical roots or brachial plexus and represents a reversible peripheral nerve injury. The incidence of and major risk factors for stingers among young rugby players remain uninvestigated.

PURPOSE: To investigate the incidence, symptoms, and intrinsic risk factors for stingers in elite rugby union teams of young players.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

METHODS: A total of 569 male rugby players, including 358 players from 7 high school teams and 211 players from 2 university teams, were investigated using self-administered preseason and postseason questionnaires.

RESULTS: The prevalence of a history of stingers was 33.9% (95% CI, 30.3-37.9), and 20.9% (119/569) of players experienced at least 1 episode of a stinger during the season (34.2 [95% CI, 26.2-42.1] events per 1000 player-hours of match exposure). The reinjury rate for stingers per season was 37.3% (95% CI, 30.4-44.2). Using the multivariate Poisson regression method, a history of stingers in the previous season and the grade and position of the player were found to be risk factors for stingers during the current season. The mean severity of injury was 2.9 days, with 79.3% (191/241) of the players not losing any time from playing after sustaining a stinger injury and 5.8% (14/241) of the players recovering within more than 14 days. The most frequent symptom was numbness in the unilateral upper extremity, and the most severe symptom was weakness of grasping (mean severity, 6 days). A logistic regression analysis indicated that a history of stingers in the previous season and an injury with more than 3 symptoms, especially motor weakness, were correlated with the severity of injury.

CONCLUSION: Young rugby players with a history of stingers have a significantly high rate of repeat injuries. Although nearly 80% of the players experienced only minimal (0-1 day) time loss injuries, neurological deficits sometimes last beyond 1 month. A history of stingers was identified to be the strongest risk factor for injuries and for lasting symptoms. This information may be useful for planning the proper treatment for stingers in young rugby players.

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