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PSA- Flu Shot & Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain- you can’t lie on that side, rolling over in bed hurts, forget about reaching into the cupboard without dropping a plate or cup, don’t even try to put on your coat or seat belt without wincing. Combing, washing, or drying your hair hurts- so skip a day with a pony tail or dry shampoo.

These movements instill fear, walking around like a wounded bird with your arm at your side. These are all the signs and symptoms that send you to your orthopedic surgeon and onto your physical therapist to help you “fix” what is going on and return your arm to all the movements it can do pain free!

But what if you thought you where protecting yourself from the flu or pneumonia or any other ailment that requires a vaccination and woke up with extreme muscle soreness in your shoulder with the above issues? What the heck happened???

Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) is the incorrect placement of the vaccine into the shoulder joint or bursa and not into the actual muscle belly of the deltoid. Alesia Whitt, MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BS, Nurse Practitioner for Dr. Roger Chams explains, “When the shoulder is injected improperly (too high above the deltoid muscle belly), the injection can cause tendinitis if injected into the tendon or bursitis if inadvertently injected into the bursa. In most cases the symptoms will resolve spontaneously with ice, over the counter anti-inflammatories and rest, but occasionally it can persist for weeks or even months." She reports that the efficacy of the vaccine is not affected and although quite painful it should not cause any structural damage in the shoulder.

So, what can you do to prevent this? For one thing don’t close your eyes or look away while the injection is being placed. Make sure you wear a shirt that can be pulled up to expose the deltoid muscle and advocate for yourself to ensure the provider is placing the vaccine in the muscle belly.

Alesia reports, "It may be beneficial for doctor’s offices and pharmacies to undergo regular review and or training of proper injection technique and placement.” Who knew that taking care of your health could inadvertently cause a musculoskeletal issue.

The shoulder is a very complex joint that can move in many different directions with specific control and timing of your shoulder blade muscles and help from your rotator cuff and labrum for stability. Your physical therapist is your movement expert and can help restore your shoulder to pain free function.

If you need Physical Therapy for any shoulder related issues, please call Creative Rehab to schedule an appointment!

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