Do you have shoulder pain after a flu shot? Flu shots and other vaccines can cause shoulder injuries such as:
"SIRVA" is a medical term used to describe various injuries caused by vaccines such as the flu shot, Tetanus shot, TDaP and DTaP vaccines, or the HPV shot. Roughly 70% of shoulder related vaccine injuries are caused by the flu shot. SIRVA usually occurs when the shot is injected into the deltoid, the top of the arm area or shoulder. It is unlikely that a vaccination given in the lower arm will cause a shoulder injury (although it can cause other injuries).
In many cases, the injury is caused by the flu shot being injected too high on the arm. Near the top of the shoulder there are several sensitive areas. For instance, the vaccine can penetrate the bursa sac which is a fluid-filled compartment. The bursa acts almost like a lubricant – it allows the muscles, tendons and bones of the shoulder joint to move smoothly.
When the vaccine penetrates the bursa or tendons of the shoulder, it can cause an inflammatory response. The inflammation can present in the bursa (Bursitis), tendons (Tendonitis) or around the rotator cuff. Inflammation causes pain and reduced range of motion.
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 caused by a significant injury. A person suffering from shoulder injuries following vaccination should see her family doctor as soon as possible.
The family doctor will likely refer the patient to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in these injuries. In order to diagnose the injury, the orthopedic will likely prescribe an MRI of the shoulder. MRIs are the most useful diagnostic test when it comes to diagnosing shoulder injuries.
The MRI may show inflammation, fluid collection, swelling, or even tears. After the orthopedic reviews the MRI, she can offer a diagnosis that usually includes one or all of bursitis, tendinitis, adhesive capsulitis and rotator cuff tear.
In mild cases, the patient will recover fully after a course of physical therapy. Physical therapy will usually be prescribed 2-3 times per week for a course of around 3 months.
If physical therapy is not beneficial, the orthopedic doctor 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 remedy the problem. In others, the relief may be temporary.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The damage could be substantial enough to require removal of the bursa or repair of the tendons.
If you or your child suffered a shoulder injury caused by a flu shot or other vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.