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3 min read

Parsonage-Turner Syndrome and Vaccines

Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, also known as brachial neuritis, neuralgic amyotrophy, and other names, is a rare form of peripheral neuropathy that impacts the nerves in the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand. Occurring in fewer than 2 out of 100,00 people every year, the exact cause of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is still unknown. However, there are multiple risk factors that have been identified. The HSS Journal has identified these risk factors as patients who have experienced postoperative, post-infectious, post-traumatic, and post-vaccination scenarios. 

What are the Symptoms of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome? 

The Symptoms of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can vary wildly, but most cases can be identified from severe pain in the upper arm and shoulder, lack of muscle control, and numbness in the arm and shoulder. As time goes on, these symptoms can evolve into weakness, muscle atrophy, and paralysis. However, in some cases, patients may experience any combination of these symptoms, including paralysis with no pain, numbness with no paralysis, or any other combinations. If you experience any symptoms and believe you are suffering from Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention, as delayed treatment can lead to a worse prognosis.

Diagnosing Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can be difficult. Due to the rarity of the syndrome, many doctors do not diagnose it initially, and the cause of the syndrome is not fully understood. A proper diagnosis can commonly take between three and nine months. If your doctor suspects Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, they may conduct electromyography (analysis of the electrical activity of muscles) or nerve conduction studies (electric stimulation of the muscles) in order to determine the extent of damage to the nerves. 

Some studies have shown that Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is more common in men than in women, with estimates ranging from a mild 11:9 male:female ratio, to as large as an 11.5:1 ratio. Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can appear in people of all ages, from as young as three months to as old as 75 years. Most commonly, it is found in people aged 30-70.


Do Vaccines Cause Parsonage-Turner Syndrome?

While Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is an extremely rare disorder, a widely recognized risk factor is receiving a vaccination. While the exact relationship between vaccinations and Parsonage-Turner Syndrome are unknown, it is suspected that a vaccination may cause an autoimmune response that induces the syndrome. The onset of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome typically occurs within 28 days of vaccination, but it can occur as early as the same day as vaccination. 

Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is most commonly associated with tetanus vaccination, but it has been known to also be associated with vaccines for human papillomavirus, influenza, shingles, tick-borne encephalitis and COVID-19. Despite the mildly increased risk of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, it is still highly recommended to get vaccinated due to the extremely low rate of developing Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, out of the 418.80 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in the United States, there were only 60 reported cases of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. Similarly, throughout the 2018, 2019, and 2020 flu seasons, only 18 cases of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome were identified following receiving the influenza vaccine.


How do you Treat and Recover From Parsonage-Turner Syndrome?

Recommended treatment for Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can vary from person to person. Many cases resolve on their own without any need for treatment. However, for many patients, treatment is needed in order to properly recover. This can range from painkillers, to physical and occupational therapy, to anti-inflammatory steroid injections, to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. In severe cases, surgery might be needed, typically involving nerve grafting or tendon transfers in the affected area, where healthy nerves and tendons are used to replace the damaged nerves and tendons.

The prognosis for Parsonage-Turner Syndrome also varies from case to case. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average amount of time someone suffers from Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is three to four months, with between 70%-90% of people making a good recovery of arm strength within three years. In the most mild cases, Parsonage-Turner Syndrome may last only a few weeks, while in the most severe cases, patients never fully recover, with lingering muscle weakness lasting indefinitely. A swift diagnosis and prompt treatment can greatly improve the prognosis, so if you believe you are suffering from Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, seek immediate medical attention.


Getting compensation for Parsonage-Turner Syndrome following a vaccine

Developing Parsonage-Turner Syndrome following a vaccine can be a stressful and frightening thing. But it is important to know that you are not alone in this difficult time. At My Vaccine Lawyer, we have an experienced team of vaccine injury lawyers who are committed to offering you the resources you need to advocate for your rights and help you understand your legal options. 

If you believe that you have suffered from Parsonage-Turner Syndrome due to a vaccination, contact My Vaccine Lawyer. Our team of attorneys is prepared to provide you with the guidance you need, as we believe that nobody should need to face filing a vaccine injury claim on their own when they should be focusing on their recovery. Contact My Vaccine Lawyer to take the first step towards the justice and compensation you deserve.


Meet the Author

Leigh Finfer - Associate Attorney

Leigh A. Finfer is a vaccine and personal injury attorney at Muller Brazil and My Vaccine Lawyer. Mrs. Finfer has been with the firm since June 2018 and her practice includes representing vaccine injury victims, personal injury victims, and those who suffer injuries as a result of unsafe drugs and medical devices.


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