Why A Little Bit Of Arm Pain Is Necessary Each Year
Even if you received a flu shot in a previous year, you should still protect yourself with a new vaccination this year. This is because the vaccine is developed based on the specific flu strains scientists expect to be the most dangerous this year. Doctors recommend getting vaccinated in fall, but it is never too late to get the flu shot. Getting it late is better than not at all.
Why Does My Arm Hurt After A Flu Shot
- Lung Health and Diseases
Getting a shot at the doctor’s office might not be the most enjoyable experiencewith the needle and the doctor and that pesky arm pain that can come after for somebut vaccination is necessary to help your body defend itself against dangerous diseases, including seasonal influenza . There’s a reason CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot each year: Anyone can get the flu and it can hit hard. The 2017-2018 flu season particularly demonstrated the impact: Around 80,000 Americans lost their lives due to influenza and 900,000 people were hospitalized.
The flu shot is safe, and you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Most people have little or no reaction to the flu shot and the most common side effect is some discomfort in your arm hours after receiving the vaccination, including soreness, redness and/or swelling. A sore arm is much better than catching the actual influenza viruswhich can knock you out for days or weeks with high fever, cough and muscle achesbut why do some people experience this particular side effect of the flu shot?
How Much It Hurts May Depend On How The Shot Was Administered
Slow injections may cause more pain, according to research published in the journal Vaccine. Researchers compared pain measurements in slow versus fast injections among infants and found that a faster shot reduced injection-induced pain when it came to certain vaccines, including the flu shot. A slower injection time means more time for the needle to be in contact with the skin, which could lead to the needle moving around more or even potentially cause muscle tissue damage, both of which make you feel sorer.
While you cant exactly predict the style of the person giving you the shot, try stroking or applying gentle pressure to the skin near the injection site during the shot, said Michael Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Just give the nurse or pharmacist a heads up if you want to do this step before they get started. They may opt to do it for you so that you dont accidentally get pricked.
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How To Treat A Sore Arm After Vaccination
Although a sore arm after COVID shots is temporary, there are a few things you can do at home to help treat a sore arm after your vaccine:
- Use a cold compress on the injection site
- Move your arm around frequently throughout the day
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil and Tylenol if approved by your provider
- Use antihistamines such as Benadryl if you experience itchiness
Unless you have a health condition that prevents you from taking certain OTC pain relievers, such as a bleeding condition or liver or kidney problems, you may find relief from arm soreness as well as certain other vaccine side effects such as headache or fatigue.
However, you want to avoid taking OTC pain medications before your vaccine in anticipation of side effects. While it may decrease your arm soreness, the local inflammation is beneficial to the development of a vigorous immune response and anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce this beneficial response, Dr. Anderson explains.
Can The Flu Shot Cause Tendonitis
A proper vaccine injection technique is critical for intramuscular vaccines such as the flu shot. Specifically, the Center for Disease Control advises that the needle should be inserted at a 90-degree angle to the skin, as close to the deltoid muscle as possible. While this may seem fool-proof, mistakes are common and can lead to tendonitis and other musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder and arm. Improper vaccine administration can allow for the needle to cause damage to the nerves, muscles and other subcutaneous soft tissue. Moreover, many inactivated vaccines contain an adjuvant. Adjuvants are vaccine components that enhance the immune response to an antigen.
These components can cause a local reaction to an improperly placed needle at the injection site, causing pain, redness and swelling. Tendonitis, specifically, is an inflammatory reaction at the rotator cuff or biceps tendon. Tendons are thick cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone. Tendonitis normally occurs as the result of a tendon being pinched by inflamed surrounding structures. In severe instances, nerve damage or impingement syndrome can also be diagnosed.
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Soreness After A Flu Shot
While we admit that a little bit of pain is better than the flu, we also know that pain in your shoulder after a flu shot can be alarming to some. When you receive a flu shot, antigens are being injected into your body. These antigens serve as a signal to our body to start producing antibodies that aid in protecting us from infection, a signal received from the dead virus strains in the vaccine.
Your body, therefore, detects the virus as a threat and begins to fight it, even though the virus in the vaccine cannot hurt you. The soreness in your arm is part of this signal in response to the flu vaccination.
Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
But it’s especially important that those in higher-risk groups get vaccinated to avoid health problems from the flu. They include:
- all kids 6 months through 4 years old
- anyone 65 years and older
- all women who are pregnant, are trying to become pregnant, have recently given birth, or are breastfeeding during flu season
- anyone whose immune system is weakened from medications or illnesses
- people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
- any adult or child with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes
- kids or teens who take aspirin regularly and are at risk for developing Reye syndrome if they get the flu
- caregivers or household members of anyone in a high-risk group
- Native Americans and Alaska Natives
Babies younger than 6 months can’t get the vaccine. But if their parents, other caregivers, and older kids in the household get it, that will help protect the baby. This is important because infants are more at risk for serious problems from the flu.
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Flu Shot Tips From A Nurse
Feeling squeamish about getting your annual flu shot? We asked an expert for some advice in making the uncomfortable experience a little bit easier.
Nurse Janet Li-Tall has given thousands of flu shots in her 11 years working at the Occupational Health department of UCLA Health. She likes giving them because it protects the staff and patients, but she acknowledges that its human nature to be afraid of pain.
Here, she offers advice on how to get through the flu shot:
If you are nervous, tell the nurse. She can help distract you by talking and asking questions. When you are telling me about your weekend plans, it distracts you from thinking about the shot, says Li-Tall. If you feel like you are going to faint , you may want to lay down on an exam table to get your vaccine.
Plan your wardrobe. Wear short sleeves so that the health care professional giving you the shot can easily access your upper arm. If you are attending a public flu vaccine event where privacy may be minimal, consider wearing an undershirt in case you have to remove your outer long-sleeve shirt.
Get the injection in your non-dominant arm. Actually, it is your choice which side you choose, but if your arm does get sore youll notice it less in your non-dominant arm. However, if you have a fresh tattoo or a wound in the injection zone, get the shot in the other arm.
Visit www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm for more information on seasonal flu shots.
Will My Pain Go Away
Soreness after receiving the flu shot can last for up to 1-2 days after receiving the vaccine. If you repeatedly experience soreness after the flu vaccine, you can take ibuprofen 2 hours prior to the vaccine. You can also ice your arm to reduce redness and swelling at the injection site.
Even if you received the flu shot last year, you should still protect yourself with a new vaccination this year. We hope you have a healthy fall season! If you need to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists, contact us today.
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What If I Have Experienced Shoulder Pain From A Flu Shot
If you have experienced shoulder pain after receiving a flu shot, you may be suffering from Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, or SIRVA. Vaccine-related shoulder injuries commonly result from administration errors such as injecting the vaccine too high on the shoulder or too low on the arm. These errors lead to painful complications, and in some cases may require surgery.
Fortunately, individuals claiming vaccine-related shoulder injuries can seek compensation for their medical bills and other losses through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program . The Vaccine Program is a no-fault government compensation program that provides money to individuals suffering from vaccine-related injuries. At the Center for Vaccine Shoulder Pain Recovery, our sole focus is helping clients recover compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Getting To Know Your Annual Flu Shot
The flu shot is one of the most common vaccines in the United States. Each year, nearly half of all Americans are vaccinated against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that flu shots, on average, reduce the risk of getting the flu by 50 to 60 percent. According to the CDC, flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others. As a result, the CDC recommends that every person six months of age and older receive a flu shot every year.
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Why Does The Flu Shot Make Your Arm Sore The Next Day
Heres the simple answer: The flu shot hurts because someone put a needle into your shoulder muscle and inserted fluid. The complete explanation is a bit more complicated, and it has more to do with your bodys response to the shot than with the shot itself.
The discomfort you feel the next day is an inflammation response to an injury , as well as an inflammation response driven by your immune system. The inflammation is a sign that your body is making and delivering antibodies to the injection site.
The flu shot is aimed at muscle because your immune systems response is greater when the vaccine is inserted there. But that means youll feel some pain later when you use that muscle.
How Long Does Arm Pain Last
For most people, arm pain starts within 24 hours of receiving a vaccination and can last for about a day or two. This experience can vary based on which vaccine you are receiving.
For example, Shingrix tends to cause more intense pain and lasts longer than other shots. Before receiving a vaccination, ask your provider or pharmacist how long arm pain typically lasts for that particular vaccine.
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Why The Arm And Not The Butt
Why indeed. If youre a millennial , you probably dont remember getting shots in the buttocks. Doctors used to prick people in the bums because, jiggly as it might be, your gluteus maximus is a very large muscle. Its essentially just a big needle target. But we dont really give vaccines in the tush anymore, and its because of three main issues.
One is just convenience. Lots of people get flu shots in fairly public spaces, whether it be the nurses station at a doctors office or the waiting area of a pharmacy. Having to pull your pants down would require a more private place . If you can just roll up your sleeve, the whole thing is much easier to pull off in your local Walgreens.
Another, larger issue is that butts tend to have fat. Most vaccines, influenza included, dont work nearly as well when injected into fatty tissue. The immune system reacts differently to antigens that are presented in the muscle as opposed to just under the skin, so if a shot is designed to go in muscle, it really needs to get there. Your acquired immunity probably wont be as great if the antigens end up in your butt fat, though certain vaccines actually perform better in fat. Those shots go in the fat pad covering your triceps.
Your deltoid, on the other hand, doesnt have any major nerves for sloppy physicians to run into. Thighs also work quite well for the same reason, says Zimmerman. As long as you stay out of the groin area, theres not much to damage.
How To Minimize Arm Pain After Getting The Flu Shot
These tips should help to lessen the soreness at the injection site.
Flu season is almost here, and with the added concern of the COVID-19 virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that everyone who is 6 months old and older get the flu vaccine.
Some people may hesitate to get the flu vaccine because they believe the flu shot will give them the flu or because theyre afraid of the pain that comes with getting shots. While taking the sting out of the injection entirely may not be possible for many people, there are ways to minimize the pain both during and after the injection.
First, its important to understand why your arm hurts after the flu vaccine. The most obvious factor is that the vaccine introduces a needle into the arm muscle and injects fluid into it.
But its not just the needle thats bothersome. For some vaccine recipients, there is swelling and pain at or near the injection site for a couple of days after receiving the shot. This reaction is considered to be a good sign by doctors.
The reason why your arm specifically is sore is that your immune system is giving you a robust response to the flu vaccination,Dr. Juanita Mora told the American Lung Associations blog, Every Breath.
The good news is that you can help reduce the discomfort from the flu shot by taking a few simple actions.
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Youre Having An Immunologic Response
Thats Richard Zimmermans five-word answer. Hes a professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and director of PittVax, a CDC-funded program that evaluates the effectiveness of flu vaccines. He explains that its not the act of injecting the vaccine that makes you sore the next dayits how your body responds to that injection.
In fact, you should be glad that your arm hurts. That means the vaccine is working.
The flu vaccine works by presenting antigens to your immune system. Antigens are proteins that allow your white blood cells to recognize foreign objects inside your body, like viruses. You build up a natural immunity to viruses once infected, because your body learns to recognize them as dangerousso if they return with a vengence, your immune system is better prepared to fight back. Vaccines take advantage of this by providing very small amounts of antigens so that your white blood cells learn what the flu virus looks like.
This is why vaccination is much less effective if the annual vaccine recipe doesnt match well with the actual flu virus. Youve built up an immunity to the wrong strain.
That inflammation is what causes you pain. Zimmerman says that only about one in five people have this local reaction, though that number varies by vaccine. Its not that those other four dont become immunethey just dont experience inflammation to the point of pain.
What Are The Types Of Flu Vaccines
Two types of flu vaccine are available for the 20202021 flu season. Both protect against the four types of influenza virus that are causing disease this season::
- the flu shot, which is injected with a needle
- the nasal spray, a mist which gets sprayed into the nostrils
In the past, the nasal spray vaccine wasn’t recommended for kids because it didn’t seem to work well enough. The newer version appears to work as well as the shot. So either vaccine can be given this year, depending on the child’s age and general health.
The nasal spray is only for healthy people ages 249. People with weak immune systems or some health conditions and pregnant women should not get the nasal spray vaccine.
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Compensation For A Vaccine Shoulder Injury
Compensation for vaccine-related shoulder dysfunction includes: reimbursement of medical expenses applicable lost wages and pain and suffering.
If you or someone you know has suffered from tendonitis following a vaccination, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Contact our vaccine injury lawyers for a free consultation at 229-7704.