New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson’s condition has been updated from a cervical stinger to a herniated disk, meaning he will be out indefinitely. No word yet on whether surgery will be required.
Discs act as shock absorbers in our spine and are made up of an outer fibrous ring (annulus fibrosis) and a soft jelly-like center (nucleus pulposus). When a herniation occurs, the soft center protrudes out because of a tear in the outer ring. This can happen as a result of degenerative changes from repeated trauma and wear-and-tear to the disc or traumatic events.
Symptoms of herniated discs vary based on the location and severity of the herniation but can range from localized back/neck pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is also possible to have no symptoms if the herniation is not interfering with soft tissues or nerves. Treatment options range from non-surgical options such as NSAIDs, cortisone injections, decompression therapy, chiropractic, and physical therapy, to surgery like a discectomy.
Ryan Anderson, the starting power forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, sustained a “cervical stinger” in last night’s game after running into Gerald Wallace of the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter. Anderson was on his back for several minutes before the medical staff brought out a stretcher to help stabilize his head and neck. As with any injuries relating to the head and neck, it is a scary situation until we receive confirmation from the athlete that they are conscious, aware, and have function of their extremities. Judging by the way Anderson reacted as he was carted off the court, hopefully his injury is not a serious one.
A cervical stinger or burner is an injury that affects the nerve roots from the cervical spine or neck. The nerves involved are bundled in a region called the brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves in the neck. Any sudden compression or traction force on the region surrounding the plexus, such as the one sustained by Anderson when his left shoulder/neck area collided with Wallace, can create a burning or stinging sensation from the shoulder down to the hand. In addition, symptoms of weakness, numbness, and tingling in the affected extremity can also be present. Majority of the time this condition will resolve on its own without the need for surgery. A protective neck collar is used to help stabilize and support the cervical spine to let the body heal itself. Here’s to Ryan Anderson making a full and speedy recovery.