1465913 tn?1318971452

Shoulder & Arm Pain long after Flu Shot / Vaccine

got the flu shot this year as I do every year. That was over 3 weeks ago and my arm/shoulder still hurts. It was so bad that last week I went to the doc after reading threads online. He said we could spend a lot of money on tests (which may come back inconclusive) and physical therapy (which may not really speed up the healing process) but in the end it is probably just a matter of time. He DID give me a steriod pack which I finished yesterday morning...the last pill. The steriods helped immediately, however yesterday when I woke up the stiffness is back in the shoulder and has gotten worse. Today I could barely get dressed.

At its worst, the pain was so bad that when I tried to remove my gown over my head I doubled over...unable to the complete the task. I had tingling and numbness in my arm and fingers, and down into my shoulder blade. At times the pain travels down into my pec muscles and into my arm pit. I have never had anything like this from past flu shots other than a little arm soreness that lasted a couple of days. This is different. We believe (at my office) that the shot was a little high and also a bit further towards the back of the shoulder than in past years.

Right now I can apply pressure to the spot where the shot was given and feel a dull pain all the way down into my shoulder muscle and arm. Cannot sleep on my left side and simple things like carrying a purse or pulling the covers up cause intense, shooting pain. Had to get groceries last nite and was able to do it (even though it REALLY hurt) so there doesn't appear to be a lot of weakness right now. The pain seems to be worse while in bed trying to sleep and in the morning. Esp in the morning...

Because of a lowered kidney function my doc has told me to limit NSAID intake. This is bad news since that is the only thing that actually helped the pain. Since I can't afford expensive tests or PT right now (and from reading the blogs they don't really seem to help much in the diagnosis or recovery) I'm gonna give it a little time...unless it gets worse and becomes unbearable again. I plan to keep checking back here and reporting the progress. I DID feel better after reading the posts because I realized this was apparently not just some funky anomaly that only I was experiencing.

I am probably going back in to see my doc to let him know about the result of the steroids (immediate relief) as well as the sudden return of the pain as bad as (or worse) than before when the steriods were stopped. This is very depressing...I try to do what I can to be healthy and I actually wind up causing a problem. I have read that it could be needle placement (i.e. nerve, punctured bursa, muscle hematoma) or a reaction to the vaccine itself (preservatives, etc.). I am a 51 yr old female always received a flu shot never more than soreness for a couple of days. Guess I'm hoping for a miracle...everyone else reporting these symptoms indicates that recovery is VERY slow and takes many months up to a year. However, I have yet to see where someone pinpointed EXACTLY what the problem was...
81 Responses
1465913 tn?1318971452
UPDATE: Well I went back to the doc Friday afternoon. I told him how the Medrol pak helped and how the pain had returned within 24 hours of the last pill. That the only thing that would touch the pain were NSAIDs. So, since I normally stay away from steriods he said another round of Medrol would be OK. Also he said because the kidney function number he was concerned about was so close to normal and the BUN and Creatine numbers were normal, he was going to put me back on Mobic once I hit the 3-pill day of the Medrol pak. I also shared with him what I have learned from this site and others. So the game plan is to follow Medrol with Mobic and give it a couple more weeks. If the pain is not much improved he will refer me to a shoulder doc for evaluation and possible cortisone injection. Honestly I cannot afford expensive PT right now but HAVE been doing gentle stretches, etc. Knock on wood but I don't seem to have any range of motion issues if I can stand the pain. So, today shoulder is kinda achy but tolerable, today is 3-pill day so I will start the Mobic tonight. I should know by the end of the week if there is any improvement.
know what you are going through, I have the same symptoms. Check out  Caplan, Homer Chin-Caplan, P. C. website, thay are out of Boston and serve clients all over the U.S.  This is a law firm that deals with Shoulder injuries related to Vaccination. you will fine two conditions that are related to this condition
Avatar universal
I had the flu shot on October 6, 2010 and have experienced severe arm/shoulder pain, difficulty with certain movement and as you describe, the problems with sleeping on the left side. After trying ice packs, heat, muscle relaxers, anti inflammatory and pain releivers to no avail, I called the docs office.  I went to the Doc today and was put on Medrol pack combined with PT.
Hopefully this will do the trick. The Doc says it is just a reaction from the antibodies in the shot. I don't think I will get the shot next year, even though the Doc said it would be fine to do so. This is just too painful and more trouble then I bargained for in getting a flu shot.
1465913 tn?1318971452
UPDATE: I began taking the Mobic (7.5mg daily) when I had was on day 4 of the Medrol dose pak. That was Monday the 11th and I took the last steriod Wednesday the 13th. All was good until Sunday the 17th. I woke up with my arm and shoulder hurting and my fingers tingling/numb. I do not believe I did anything to aggrevate it...guess the steriods lasted a bit longer this time. And now there is a NEW symptom. My shoulder is popping and cracking some. It has NEVER done that before...I don't know if it is a good sign or a bad sign. Very frustrated...the next step is have my GP refer me to a shoulder guy. I cannot afford MRIs and Physical Therapy.

It has now been 5 weeks since the Flu Shot. I found out that the wives of two of our employees are having the same problems (they rec'd the shot the same day I did at the office). The younger one who is in her 30s is doing better but not over it. The one that is around my age 50s is still having trouble like I am. Today is Tuesday the 19th and the pain is less than Sunday. I am taking 15mg daily of Mobic (rather than the prescribed 7.5mg) since Sunday and maybe that is helping a bit. Pain on Sunday was about a 7 or 8. Today maybe 5 or 6 unless I move in one of the many ways that aggrevates the condition.

So not planning on going back to the doc but if the pain continues with no more improvement or gets worse...guess I will. I hate to think that I've got to live with this pain for another 6 mos or a year...
1465913 tn?1318971452
I apologize if this is a duplicate post, however, wanted to make sure the info got out there to those that might find it helpful...

My detailed experience is chronicle on the following thread:


My symptoms mirror most everyone else’s…1) shot high up so much so that we talked about it for days after the shot 2) mine started hurting that evening, shot given around 3:30 pm 3) pharmacy came to our workplace and administered shot 4) pain doing all the things everyone mentioned with the MOST painful when trying to pull off a tight fitting garment over my head…just can’t do it even now (shot given nine weeks ago) 5) cannot sleep on left side (except when I took the steroids, have taken two medrol paks and one 10 day course…doc said I can’t have any more) 6) had initial numbness in my index & middle finger and some in my thumb, now just sorta comes and goes but not so much and 7) my doc was not aware of this being a problem and initially attributed it to other things, however, after hearing my explanations, what I found in my research, and the fact that he’s known me for many years and believes I’m not crazy has asked me to gather the info I have found for him…much to my relief and amazement.

In my hours of research I have found some information that was helpful. For one the VAERS site to report adverse events listed earlier in this post. I also was able to download adverse event data for the last two years…a ton of info applying some filters found tons of reports of this type of reaction. So it is not new.

Also found this thread on another site with info that was reported in 2007 and even gave the condition a name: Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, or SIRVA. Yes there is even an acronym for this condition:



As well as this HHS Power Point presentation from last summer where the last two pages discuss the above published info as well as thoughts on cause, treatment, etc.:


And last this article that discusses the findings and recommendations in detail. Not from any gov’t related side but after finding all the other info, I thought the article appeared credible:


Hope some of this helps. Based on what I’ve gone through I truly believe it is important for everyone to file a VAERS report of adverse event and talk about this so that more is done in evaluating the cause(s) and prevention of this issue. I look forward to reading your updates. And PLEASE update even if the pain goes away…it is helpful to us still hurting to read about those that have recovered…gives us hope! :-D
Avatar universal
I'm having the same experience except it was a Tetanus/ Pertussis shot. I did the steroids along with a medication called etodolac and I was in relief for the five days until the first day following the end of the prednisone treatment. Please keep me posted.
Avatar universal
I had a flu shot back in the fall of 2010, and my arm and shoulder has hurt ever since. Haven't been to a doctor. The way my arm gets numb and tingly down to my hands, I thought I had a ruptured disk in my neck. But I have always suspected the flu shot, since it didn't ache before I got it. I'm very discouraged. I hope something can be done.  I have autoimmune problems, so I already take steroids all the time, but I still ache really bad. Good to know I'm not alone.
Avatar universal
OMG......I got a flu shot on October 4, 2011. When the nurse put the needle in, of course it hurt a bit, but no more than any other injection I have ever had, however; when she pushed the syringe and the stuff entered my body, it felt like she blew out my shoulder, it really hurt. I was told that was normal, and that my arm would hurt for a couple of days. I was unable to lift my arm since then, and it has been almost a month. I went to the doctor last week, and he said it couldn't be due to the flu shot, he told me I probably have tendonitis and prescribed motrin 800 and robaxin (pain pill and muscle relaxant) and told me to apply heat. Well, I have taken the pills as prescribed to no avail, so I've decided to stop as I don't want to ruin my liver. I think seeing the doctor is useless, so I don't know what to do, because the pain is now going into my neck and across my shoulder blades, and I can't sleep due to the pain. I can hardly lift my arm, it is difficult to dress myself or do anything else that involves using my left arm. I will NEVER get another flu shot, and I hope and pray that I will be healthy again. Does anyone out there who has gone through this have any advice?
757137 tn?1347196453
I consistently refuse the flu shot and am consistently treated as having a sub-normal intelligence. That doesn't bother me at all. I hear too many horror stories vis-a-vis vaccinations. We keep our babies relatively vaccine free, and they certainly don't get any vaccinations at all until they are past the breastfeeding stage. They have no autism, ADD or any other fancy letters attached to their names.
I am a mom of a son who does have autism and a daughter who was born deaf so its not just some fancy letters they didn't choose to have autism or be deaf they were born that way
Avatar universal
To all of you who posted...THANK YOU!!  I received the flu shot in Oct 2011 and have had horrific problems with my arm and the identical pain you mention radiating to down my arm and into my hand and fingers.  I too graduated to "popping shoulder" and burning sensations which increase with any attempt to sleep on the affected side. I recently began pursuit of my doctorate and the excessive use of my computer mouse has exacerbated it ten-fold!  I am so glad to find I wasnt alone!!  I'm not sure how long it will take to reside so any input from those of you who have been experiencing it longer is appreciated.
2024351 tn?1328813578

I had a recent pain shot (Morphine) from my gastroenterologist during a severe attack of Chron's disease. The medicine relieved the pain for a while and everything worked, but I notice that my arm has still been hurting and it has been a week. The pain is not awful, but my arm feels different than before. Do you guys have any ideas as to if this is anything threatening? Thanks!

Harry, San Francisco USA
Avatar universal
These comments from "Myarmhurtstoo" are a crock of crap. The exact same comments can be found on WebMD dated October 2011.
Avatar universal
Im a 30 yr old nurse who recieved the MMR Vaccine in September and have been off work ever since. Within 24 hrs of having my second vaccine i ended up in A&E with severe cramp in both feet into my calves, HR 160bpm, bp 180/100 (normally 90/60) from this i got blurred vision, severe back pain, cramp in spine, damage to vocal cords, muscle twitching, numbess, burning feet, tingling in my tongue, reflux etc I have seen alot of doctors they just say post mmr symptoms, has anyone else had a similar reaction? if so how long did it take for your symptoms to go?
I want my life back replies would be must appreciated x
1465913 tn?1318971452
Wow just wonder which comments you believe are the crap SuilChait?  I began posting in September 2010 on this site, the WebMD site as well as one called Empowher. Additionally I discovered one called vactruth.com and post to that one as well.  

All the information and links I found myself and shared on all four sites.  As time has gone on there is more information online and the medical community has now "officially" published a report on SIRVA. If you want to spend $36 you can download it...it is not free.  I have provided my regular doctor and my shoulder doctor with all of this information.  Many have found this information on their own and some have shared what I had previously posted.  

Yes some "crap" can be found on all of these sites.  Some use the platform to try and sell miracle cures, some are just simply hypochondriacs and some are just looking for someone to sue.  None of what I posted, however, was inaccurate or intentionally misleading and I attempted to qualify anything that was simply my opinion as such.

First these injuries need to be reported through VAERS.  All that does is put the info in a database BUT that is what started the discussion at the 2010 conference on vaccine injuries and perhaps began the discussion in the medical community.  

Second there is a federal vaccine injury program that may reimburse you for some of the related costs IF they determine the vaccine caused the condition.  You can check here:  http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/index.html  to see if you might qualify.

Hope this additional information helps any visiting this site trying to find answers to what has been a vexing medical issue...

2133104 tn?1335739310
I have EXACTLY the same symptoms from flu shot in Oct. 2011. Have had all the tests, MRI, Nerve conduction, EMG twice by 2 neuroligists. It showed significant nerve damage throughout entire arm. On 800mg gabapentin 3x a day, Tramadol 3x a day. They both make me extremely loopy and tired, so if I need to go to therapy I must go early in morning, because unable to drive when meds kick in. Been off work since Feb. Started physical therapy its making arm stronger but the pain worse. See Dr. on May 4th.ot  I work at a hospital, so the shot was mandatory, I also work in surgery, so I am unable to work while on these meds, unable to move without them. This is getting frustrating, my supervisor is insisting I come back to work on May 7th. Guess we;ll see.
Avatar universal
2133104 tn?1335739310
Sorry to hear of your problems. My dr. has diagnosed me with RSD. I go back to nuerologist fri.june 8th. I have been off work since Feb. Been on neurotin, done steroids pack, done the physical therapy. Please if you need to talk feel free to email me. ***@****. I don't believe you have arthritis.
Avatar universal
I had a flu jab 3 weeks ago and my shoulder is killing me! Can't do basic tasks of dressing my self, lifting items with that arm, sleeping on that side and any thing involving lifting my right arm. Went to a&e after my doc said it would go away in time. At the hospital they gave me a course of a form of pennisilin because I'm pregnant and can't take any thing else. These tablets did not help and still in severe pain some body please help me
Avatar universal
So sorry you're in pain. I type this with one hand having a similar flu vaccine reaction in the given shoulder (my right). It's been two weeks and often the pain is so excruciating that it feels as if my shoulder is separating. I suffer from RA but this is not RA pain. It's a lot sharper and not exclusively in the joint. Also my RA pain is always symetrical and this is just my right shoulder (why oh why did I let that pharmacist stick me in my dominant arm!). I've found naproxen and a heating pad provide the most relief for me. I have to stay on top of the naproxen and take the max dose else it's intolerable. One thing I will say is the pharmacist that administered to me wasn't very hygienic (he initially tried to inject me without wearing gloves), in hindsight my daughter pointed out he clearly had a runny nose and went in at an odd angle with the needle. I'm pretty sure my flu shots have always been needle straight into the muscle and of course its sore for a couple days but he went in at an angle a lot like what aTB test is, just under the surface of the skin high on my shoulder. Next year I think I will opt for the flu mist, even if I have to pay out of pocket. It's nearly impossible to drive like this and very painful to do any of my daily chores or be productive at work. Hoping everyone finds relief soon.
Avatar universal
I recieved the flu shot 4 weeks ago.  I have had terrible pain in my arm since that day.  I can only wear clothes that are easy to get on and off.  Hurts to pick up anything, can't reach above my head........when I got the shot I was concerned that she gave it in the back of my shoulder?? I have never had trouble with the flu shot or any other shot before.  My doctor says it is just a coincidence.
4331082 tn?1352913189
I know how you feel.  I got the flu shot in late August 2012 and my arm has gotten considerably worse.  At first it hurt just in my bicep area of my left arm but now the pain radiates down to my elbow and up into my shoulder and neck.  My shoulder is starting to crack and pop and when I lift my arm up to put a shirt on I am in excrutiating pain!  I can't sleep at night because I sleep on my left side and I am trying to avoid sleeping on my arm.  When I first wake up I can barely lift my arm.  Heat helps ie:  heating pad, hot baths, etc.  as well as advil.  I am going to start taking Aleve 3x a day since someone else posted that it really helped them.  I told my doctor about it and she mentioned that sometimes you can get scar tissue in your muscle at the injection site and that it takes time to heal.  I have been getting a flu shout for years and this never has happened!  I feel for you and thank you for posting, I'll let you know if anything works for me.  thanks
4455555 tn?1354837689
You have said it best. There is nothing that can ease what you explained. I have also been in touch with Mollen who gave the shot and CDC. Seems no one has complained according to Mollen or the CDC as much as I have. Its been 4 month's and it's  worse. My glands under my arms are sore ,my chest,my back shoulder,elbow,and today my wrist is  hurting. I noticed that I could not fill a gallon of water in a jug that my arm would shake and give out on me.  My Doctor says he has not heard of this . I have read a lot of comments ,and you would think that a Doctor would look up the reasons. I have had flu shots for years,and as a medical worker this was one I can never forget,and very worried as to what will come of this condition that the flu shot has put on me. I was told there was a different vaccine added this year'' by a nurse at mollen'' for 2012. What ever they  added did affect me greatly. Good thing I'm not a golf pro, my career would be shot !!!!
Avatar universal
I got the flu shot 5 days ago and noticed my right arm really aching  tonight. It is a very deep aching from my shoulder down to my elbow. The nurse gave me my shot very high up at the top of my arm..which I thought was strange. I got this shot in my right arm as I still have a red itchy spot on my left arm from last yrs flu shot..the nurse practitioner said not to worry about the red spot but to get my flu shot in my r. arm to make sure that I wouldn't have a problem...well, I have a problem...my arm if killing me..wish I did't even get the shot...I have taken Naproxin but will take something stronger is this keeps aching this bad.  Why aren't people telling us about this possibility?
Avatar universal
I got a flu shot 3 weeks ago and my shoulder is still tender, my range of motion is limited, and the pain has been interfering with my sleep. After reading the comments here, I'm just glad that the pain isn't worse. I don't think I will get another shot, and just pray that eventually my shoulder returns to normal....
Avatar universal
Same reaction here. Can I suggest printing the entire forum and showing it to who ever rejects the fact that the flu vaccination can cause severe and permanent side effects? I have been suffering for 2 months now. Shoulder, neck and arm pain. Tingling in my fingertips. So much pain that i was unable to even sleep at night and would have to jump out of the bed to try to undo severe cramps in my back in the middle of the night. My neck locked up and i am still working on loosening it. I hope and I pray that this is not a permanent issue. I can't imagine having to live with this for the rest of my life.
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