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Transverse Myelitis After
a Flu Vaccine

How is transverse myelitis caused by a flu shot?

Transverse Myelitis is an immune response that can be triggered following the administration
of an influenza or tetanus shot. It affects those of all ages.


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What is Transverse Myelitis?

Transverse Myelitis ("TM") is a neurological disorder caused by spinal cord inflammation resulting from damage to nerve cells in a specific area. It is characterized by signs of neurologic dysfunction in motor and sensory tracts on either side of the spinal cord. The involvement of motor and sensory control pathways frequently produces an altered sensation, weakness, and sometimes urinary or bowel dysfunction. TM is an unbiased condition and immune response affecting all age groups, from young children to the elderly, regardless of family history, gender, or race. The term “transverse” indicates dysfunction across the entire spinal cord; however, this term can be misleading. There is not always damage across the whole cord. Even a pinpoint area of inflammation can result in asymmetric spinal cord dysfunction below the level affected while functioning above that level remains normal. As such, the medical community often uses the term “myelitis” to describe the condition.

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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.

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Transverse Myelitis Vaccine Reaction

Transverse Myelitis can be caused by influenza vaccination, tetanus shot, and other vaccines. It is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. Inflammatory attacks can damage or destroy myelin, the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers, which is different than a SIRVA injury. If the myelin is destroyed, the nerves are exposed to damage leading to subsequent symptoms of Transverse Myelitis.

Transverse Myelitis Symptoms and Causes

Debilitating symptoms include a loss of spinal cord function over several hours to several weeks. TM often begins as a sudden onset of lower back pain, muscle weakness, or abnormal sensations in the toes and feet, similar to Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

TM can rapidly progress to more severe symptoms, including paralysis due to impacted nerve cell fibers, urinary retention, and loss of bowel control. Although some patients recover with little to no residual problems, others suffer permanent impairments that affect their ability to perform ordinary tasks of daily living. There are four (4) ‘classic’ symptoms of TM, which can show up in as little as a few hours or days or gradually over a few weeks:

  • Weakness in the upper and lower extremities;
  • Sensory problems such as numbness or tingling (pins and needles);
  • General pain and discomfort (flu and lower back pain);
  • Bladder dysfunction and/or bowel motility issues.

The bodily distribution of these symptoms can be either symmetric or asymmetric, affecting one (1) or both legs and arms. 60% of TM cases have unknown causes despite inflammatory evidence. However, the remaining 40% of cases are caused by autoimmune disorders, infections, and vaccines.

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Can vaccines cause back pain?

Can the flu shot cause lower back pain? While there has been no direct link between vaccines and back pain, it is possible that they could be related. For example, some people have developed Transverse Myelitis after getting a vaccine. Transverse Myelitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the spinal cord and can cause pain, weakness, among other symptoms.

Autoimmune Disorders


  • Bacterial (Lyme disease, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.)
  • Fungal (aspergillus, blastomyces, coccidioides, and cryptococcus)
  • Parasites (toxoplasmosis, cysticercosis, schistosomiasis, etc.)
  • Viral (Varicella zoster – causes chickenpox and shingles, enterovirus, and West Nile virus)

Recently, My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was interviewed by Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about vaccine injuries such as Transverse Myelitis, along with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which is a federal compensation program for vaccine injuries in the United States. Paul and Jodie also discuss the frequency of these injuries and the lack of public knowledge about the VICP.

Lower Back Pain from Flu Shot?

If you've experienced lower back pain after from a flu shot, it's important to understand the potential causes and treatment options. In rare cases, lower back pain may be a symptom of transverse myelitis, a neurological condition that can occur after receiving a flu vaccine. While transverse myelitis is a rare complication of flu vaccination, most people who receive the vaccine experience only mild side effects, such as soreness or redness at the injection site. Discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about experiencing lower back pain or other side effects after getting a flu shot.

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How is Transverse Myelitis diagnosed?

There are ways to relieve flu shot side effects, but if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms of TM following a flu shot or other vaccine, especially if they grow in severity quickly, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor will run certain tests such as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging ("MRI") or Computerized Tomography ("CT") scan, lumbar puncture / spinal tap (a higher amount of white blood cells in the fluid could be a sign of infection), or Blood work to check your symptoms.

What is the treatment for Transverse Myelitis?

There is no known effective cure for TM, so doctors generally try to manage the disease and ease the patient's symptoms with antiviral medications, Intravenous Immunoglobulin (“IVIG”) therapy, medications for various symptoms, over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, plasma exchange therapy, steroids, rehabilitative therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and many different non-medical treatments. Our lawyers have seen partial and full recovery in our Transverse Myelitis clients.

Transverse Myelitis & Multiple Sclerosis 

In the United States, Transverse Myelitis may be the first indication of multiple sclerosis in younger people. MS destroys the myelin in the brain and spinal cord nerves, causing weakness and stiffness, tingling in the body, numbness, blurred vision, and difficulty with thinking. In rare cases, an adverse reaction can include one or more of the following: sexual dysfunction, anxiety, or depression.

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How to report Transverse Myelitis after a flu vaccine injury

In the wake of a flu vaccine injury, you should immediately notify your doctor's office. 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 can be life-threatening if left untreated;
  • Tell your doctor exactly what happened, the date and time of your vaccine, and the shoulder it was given;
  • Ask your doctor to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System ("VAERS") form.
  • Hire a vaccine injury attorney to protect your rights and ensure potential financial compensation.

VAERS stands for the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a program managed by the CDC. The program processes submitted reports of vaccine injuries and adverse events from those injured. It is not to bring a traditional civil lawsuit against any vaccine manufacturers. It is important to note that VAERS does not diagnose those who have been injured with a vaccine injury but rather compiles data about reported adverse reactions for the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to improve 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 a Transverse Myelitis after a Flu vaccine injury

If you or a loved one received an influenza vaccine, tetanus shot, or another vaccine and were diagnosed with acute Transverse Myelitis, you may qualify for compensation from a government fund called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation at (800) 229-7704. Our representation comes at no cost to you.

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