Can you get nerve damage from vaccine administration?
What happens when you hit a nerve when giving an injection? Have you ever experienced a numb arm after vaccines? Inoculations such as the flu shot and tetanus shot can cause serious nerve injuries, such as Ulnar neuropathy, when an injection hits a nerve in the arm. Ulnar Neuropathy symptoms may begin immediately after vaccination with tingling or pain in arm and hand after the shot or may take a few days to arise. Our vaccine injury lawyers have handled a variety of neurological vaccine injury cases, including Parsonage-Turner Syndrome (also known as Brachial Neuritis) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, among others. A common injury seen by our firm is Ulnar Neuropathy. If you have ever bumped your “funny bone,” resulting in a tingling feeling, you are familiar with the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve runs from the upper arm down to the fingers.
Ulnar Neuropathy is a disorder caused by impingement of the ulnar nerve. The impingement usually occurs either at the elbow or at the wrist. Ulnar nerve entrapment will result in numbness and tingling down the arm into the 4th and 5th fingers (pinky and ring fingers). In addition, grip weakness, hand coordination, and finger coordination can be affected. To test for Ulnar Neuropathy, a doctor often asks the patient to make an “OK” sign with the thumb and first finger. If the patient is suffering from ulnar nerve impingement, they cannot make this symbol.
Hear Cheryl's Vaccine Injury Story
Cheryl suffered SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration) following a flu shot. Her vaccine injury claim was filed in the VICP by vaccine lawyer Max Muller where she obtained a large cash settlement for her pain and suffering, lost wages and out of pocket medical expenses.
What is injection-related neuropathy?
Can vaccines cause nerve damage? The ulnar nerve, which spans from the medial cord of the brachial plexus (upper arm) to the hand, is susceptible to injury from vaccines. Several mechanisms can explain injection-related neuropathy, including direct trauma to the nerve fibers from the needle, hematomas caused by the injection, which lead to nerve compression, and a direct toxic effect of the injected material on nerve fibers.
What does nerve damage from an injection feel like?
Neuropathy involves weakness, arm numbness, and pain resulting from nerve damage. The most common injury for injection-related neuropathy, or neuropathy induced by a vaccine, is ulnar neuropathy. The ulnar nerve in the upper arm, based on its location, is specifically susceptible to trauma from vaccinations injected too deep into the deltoid muscle or rotator cuff area. This trauma can result in nerve damage.
What happens when a vaccine hits a nerve?
When a vaccine hits a nerve, it can cause damage to the nerve, and neuropathy. This can cause various symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the nerve damage.
Neuropathy after vaccination is a rare but known side effect of some vaccines. If you feel numbness in arm after vaccination then it is wise to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
Symptoms of nerve damage from a vaccine
This ulnar nerve impingement typically results in numbness and tingling down the affected arm into the small and ring fingers. It can also affect grip strength and hand/finger coordination. These injuries differ from SIRVA, resulting in shoulder pain, subacromial bursitis, or an axillary nerve injury. In rare cases, an adverse event from a vaccine can trigger a peripheral neuropathy response located around the brain and spinal cord. The immune response to these events is often weakness and numbness throughout the hands and feet.
More symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Pain: Nerve damage from a vaccine can cause pain in the affected area, which can range from mild to severe.
Numbness or tingling: Nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation in the affected area, or a tingling or "pins and needles" sensation.
- Weakness: Nerve damage can cause weakness or loss of strength in the affected muscles or limbs.
- Paralysis: In severe cases, nerve damage can cause paralysis or a loss of movement or function in the affected area.
- Muscle twitching or spasms: Nerve damage can cause muscle twitching or involuntary muscle contractions, which can be uncomfortable or even painful.
- Sensitivity to touch: Nerve damage can cause increased sensitivity to touch or a heightened sense of pain in response to pressure or movement.
Diagnosing injection related neuropathy
Ulnar neuropathy is diagnosed by a combination of clinical assessments and Nerve Conduction Studies/Electromyogram. In some cases, doctors order MRI examinations for a better view of the ulnar nerve. Other adverse reactions that can stem from nerve damage are Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Transverse Myelitis, postherpetic neuralgia, neuropathic pain, and permanent damage to the radial nerve.
Treatment for injection related neuropathy
Ulnar neuropathy symptoms often settle on their own, or through the use of pain medications, physical therapy and activity modifications deemed necessary by your healthcare provider. In more severe cases, surgical intervention is necessary. The standard procedure for ulnar neuropathy is Ulnar Nerve Decompression, which involves making a small cut over the inside of the elbow and dividing the bands of tissue constricting the nerve. Sometimes, repositioning of the nerve itself is necessary and an ulnar transposition is performed to alleviate persistent side effects.
How to report an ulnar neuropathy vaccine injury
In the wake of a suffering damaging side effects to your nervous system from the influenza vaccination or another vaccination, you should seek immediate medical attention. Be sure to provide the date of vaccination, the vaccine administrator’s information and the injection site (i.e., left or right arm.) Your medical provider will ensure that you begin a course of treatment to best address your symptoms. Additionally, you should:
- Call your doctor as some vaccine injuries such as a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening if left untreated;
- Tell your doctor exactly what happened, the date and time of your vaccine, and shoulder it was given;
- Ask your doctor to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System ("VAERS") form.
VAERS stands for the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which is a program managed by the CDC. The program processes submitted reports of vaccine injuries and adverse events from those who have been injured. It is important to note that VAERS does not diagnose those who have been injured with a vaccine injury, but rather compile data about reported adverse reactions for the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration in hopes of improving vaccine safety measures in the future. There are no restrictions to who can file a VAERS report and it is often used as supplemental evidence in vaccine cases when determining the onset of an injury or symptoms.
Compensation for an ulnar neuropathy injury
If you or a loved one has suffered nerve damage from a vaccine, or any related debilitating immune system response from a vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation.
I reached out to My Vaccine Lawyer after confirming I suffered from SIRVA. They were so helpful, understanding and thorough throughout the process. They were quick to respond, always answered the phone and I feel they fought to get me what I was entitled to. If you suffered from an injury then please call My Vaccine Lawyer. They will take care of you!
- Melissa Heffley, SIRVA Client