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Bad Reaction to Flu Shot
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Bad Reaction to Flu Shot

It has been 4 weeks since I had the flu shot, my left arm is in great agonizing pain, my range of motion is limited especially when trying to get dressed, bathing, etc.  I am experiencing some nausea, and viral type symptoms also.  But the greatest pain is in my entire length of my arm.  I want to know what can I do do heal or treat this problem and what is the cause?  Would physical therapy be a solution?  I just want the pain to cease.
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hello,

Your experience with the influenza vaccination is an unfortunate and infrequent occurrence.

An improper injection into or around the shoulder joint can result in an inflammatory response (for example, bursitis). Also, if the injection is given "too deeply" -- at the surface of the upper arm bone (the humerus), there can be inflammation of the bone as well. This is quite rare but possible depending on the technique of the vaccine administrator and the anatomy of the person receiving the vaccine.

In addition to soft tissue, muscle, and periosteal (around the bone) inflammation, nerves can be irritated or even traumatized by a vaccination. Or, an inflamed bursa can cause referred pain that may extend down the upper part of the arm.

I would encourage you to remain as active as you can and to use your shoulder and arm as much as you can tolerate. Ice therapy applied to the areas where you have discomfort can provide significant relief. Physical therapy may provide relief.

Your symptoms should become less and less over time. However, the complete recovery may take weeks to months.

I hope that this comment/answer is helpful to you.

Also, here is a previous posting and answer that you may find helpful.

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Occupational-Safety--Health/improper-flu-shot/show/465108

~•~ Dr. Parks

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
5 Comments
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1895154_tn?1321300864
This information was helpful to me.  I recently returned to my doctor's office where the flu shot was administered and I was simply told to take some tylenol, apply a heating pad and come back in another week and if the pain had not gone away I would be referred to a neurologist.  I want to know if there is nerve damage and if there is, would this be permanent?  I am very concerned because I am so inhibited physically now due to this pain.  And lastly, is this a malpractice issue?  Also, why is there a difference of opinion in treating the area with heat versus cold ?
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hello again,

It is important that a healthcare provider evaluate your symptoms and your physical examination findings (strength, sensation, range of motion) in order to understand whether or not this is a soft tissue problem or a nerve problem.

In general, ice is recommended in the immediate 24-48 hours after a vaccination to reduce inflammation and decrease discomfort. For soft tissue inflammation that extends beyond a couple of days, heat can be helpful to relieve discomfort from tight tendons or muscles before a person uses those muscles (for example in physical therapy) and ice can be helpful following activity.

Regarding your question of whether or not this is a malpractice issue, I cannot say "yes" or "no". The answer to this question depends on exactly where the injection was given and where your symptoms and physical examination findings are located.

~•~ Dr. Parks

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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Avatar_m_tn

i recieved a flu shot from walgreens on sept. 21,2011 i forget the exact time but within two days i could not lift my arm.  i went to dr office 13 days later and recieved a cortisone shot in my glute.  it relieved the pain for five days. the pain returned and i followed up with an internal medicine dr which had me get an mri. the results were(findings)  -"the ac joint is well maintained. there are a few subchondral cysts seen involving the lateral humeral head measuring 8mm x 7mm in size. there is also mild increased signal seen involving the suprespinatus tendon consistent with a significant bursal surface partial tear.  a minimal amount of subcromial and subdeltoid fluid is seen". (impression)-"findings suspicious for a significant bursal surface partial tear of the supraspinatus tendon.  a few subchondral degenitive cysts are seen involing the proximal lateral humeral head".  i followed up by seeing an orthopedic dr.  he gave me an x-ray and everything was fine.  he gave me a subacromial injection of cortisone.  2cc of lidocaine,2cc of marcaine, and 80 mg of depo-medrol.  within five minutes i could raise my shoulder. i did exercise band work from an exercise sheet everyday till i saw him again after 25 days. my shoulder is much better, but i still have level 1 pain. before the injection it was level 8-9.  after reading reports given on the flu vacine and the answeres given by Phillip d parks, my conclusion is that they had to have given me the shot improperly.  please dr Parks can you help me.  will i always have pain?  in years from now will i have to have surgery?  i have seen where people ask if they have a malpractice suit. i am guessing you don't want to answer that, but does my case sound consistent with the shot being given inproperly.  please , i am a massage therapist and i went in to get a flu shot like i do every year and came out with a problem that has me worried.   it is now dec 1, 2011 . mri was given aproxx.  4 weeks after shot. i value your opinion. i had someone say there is no way the flu shot did this to me and that i must have had arthritis. i have never had any shoulder problems till after the flu shot
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Please see your other posting for a response.

~•~ Dr. Parks

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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