Flu shots and other vaccines can cause Adhesive Capsulitis, also known as "Frozen Shoulder," a painful and debilitating condition characterized by severe stiffness of the affected shoulder and arm. If you have suffered frozen shoulder caused by a flu shot or another vaccine, contact our vaccine injury lawyers about potential compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Vaccines are injected into the deltoid muscle, which is the shoulder cap. If the injection is performed too high on the shoulder, the vaccine can penetrate the sensitive tendons and bursa within. If a vaccine penetrates the bursa sac or tendons, it can cause an inflammatory response. The inflammation can present itself in the bursa (Bursitis), tendons (Tendonitis), or around the Rotator Cuff. There is a direct correlation between traumatic shoulder injuries and frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder results from the gradual loss of movement in the shoulder joint, causing the shoulder to “freeze”. The shoulder joint consists of a ball (humeral head) and socket (the glenoid). A normal shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body. When the shoulder “freezes”, the joint has become stuck and its movement is limited.
Frozen shoulder typically develops as a result of inflammation of the tissues surrounding the joint. The tissue around the shoulder joint is called the capsule. Normally the capsule can expand and contract, allowing the arm to move freely into various positions. In a frozen shoulder, the capsule becomes inflamed and scarring develops. The scar formations are called adhesions. When these adhesions form, shoulder movement becomes restricted and moving the joint becomes painful. This condition is called adhesive capsulitis. Frozen shoulder can also be caused by vaccines. Injections can cause inflammation of the tissues surrounding the shoulder, leading to frozen shoulder. It is a diagnosis we see very often in our cases.
Adhesive Capsulitis or frozen shoulder is a medical condition that affects the shoulder. One cause is an incorrect administration of a vaccine, such as the flu shot. Symptoms of frozen shoulder due to a vaccine include:
My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was featured in an interview with Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about shoulder injuries from vaccines. These vaccine injuries are referred to as SIRVA, and side effects can vary among pain levels and side effects.
The main symptoms of a frozen shoulder are pain and stiffness that make it difficult to freely move the arm in certain directions. If you have frozen shoulder, you'll likely feel a dull or achy pain in one shoulder.
In some cases, the shoulder pain will resolve on its own within a week or two. If it does not, then the pain is likely being caused by a significant injury such as frozen shoulder, Tendonitis, or Bursitis. A person suffering from shoulder injuries following vaccination should see a primary care physician as soon as possible.
The primary care physician will likely refer the patient to an orthopedist who specializes in these injuries. In order to diagnose the injury, the orthopedist may order an MRI of the shoulder. However, frozen shoulder is relatively easy for a trained orthopedist to recognize without extensive diagnostic testing due to the severely limited range of motion.
An MRI may show inflammation, fluid collection, swelling, or even tears. After the orthopedist reviews the MRI, they can offer a diagnosis that usually includes one or all of the following: Bursitis, Tendonitis, frozen shoulder, and Rotator Cuff Injury. The ICD-10 code for frozen shoulder is ICD-10-CM M75.00, indicating Adhesive Capsulitis of an unspecified shoulder.
Doctors will treat not only the frozen shoulder symptoms but also the underlying cause of the frozen shoulder, such as Bursitis or Tendonitis. In mild cases, the patient will recover fully after a course of physical therapy. Physical therapy will usually be prescribed two to three (2-3) times per week for approximately three (3) months.
If physical therapy does not resolve the symptoms, the orthopedist may recommend corticosteroid injections. These steroid injections can relieve inflammation and help the patient regain some range of motion. In some cases the injections will completely resolve the problem. In others, the relief may be temporary. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Manipulation under anesthesia is commonly performed to break up scar tissue. If Bursitis or Tendonitis is to blame for the symptoms, surgery to repair those conditions may be necessary as well.
If you or someone you know suffered frozen shoulder caused by a flu shot or another vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact our vaccine injury lawyers for a free consultation (800-229-7704).
Page last reviewed and updated: November 24, 2020