ask: Is it normal for my arm muscle in my shoulder to hurt 2 weeks after flu shot?

By Free2Bme December 7, 2008 - 7:32am
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I was happy to receive the flu shot this year, as I feel like it's "doing my part" to stop the spread of the influenza virus. Plus, any inoculation that can either prevent, or lessen the symptoms, of flu is motivation to me!

I've received the flu shot annually, for the past 10 years. I have the typical soreness at site, possibly a little tired that evening. But that's it.

This shoulder muscle (at the site of the injection) is still painful, so much that I can't move my arm forward at shoulder-level, or lift my arm up over my head, without a sharp pain in that one muscle. If my arm is still, it does not hurt. It is affecting my sleep, as I am confined to sleeping on only my right side (it is my left arm that hurts).

Are there any other reports of this flu shot symptom? Did I just not move my arm enough after the shot (kind of "favored it"), or is there something else wrong??

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EmpowHER Guest

Hello, wanted to update everyone on what has been going one with my arm. It has been 13 months since my flu shot and I am now 11 post op for shoulder decompression and acromioplasty. I was told that the flu shot caused bursitis and for whatever reason nothing helped to get the inflammation go away. I tried physical therapy and numerous medicines and treatments but nothing would work. I was able to get a second opinion from an orthopedist who told me my only other option was to do surgery to see if it would help and I reluctantly agreed. I felt reassured when going into surgery when one of the girls in anesthesia said she had been suffering from the same pain for a year and had been told that surgery was her only option at this point as well. I am not going to lie, for several days after surgery I regretted that I went through with it and was worried that I had made a mistake but Sunday I woke up and the pain was almost non-existent. I know I still have a long way to go to get back to where I was a year ago, but at this point I feel like at least I am back on track!

October 20, 2015 - 5:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am having all of the same symptoms that everyone else is! I was trying to decide if I needed to get into my doctor because I started to wonder if I had a blood clot in my upper arm. It seemed unlikely that it would be from the flu shot, since it's been 11 days since the shot now and I'm still hurting. Luckily I started to research it online, in the form of flu shot complications, instead of possible blood clot symptoms--and I came across this forum, which at least helps me to feel like I'm not crazy or a hypochondriac. What a pain to deal with though! It is effecting my sleep every night, and bothersome pretty much all day long too.

October 20, 2015 - 8:07am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I also had pain at the time of injection. It went in very slowly, compared to the normal, very quick poke of the needle. My kids had theirs a few days later, and it was a half of a second to inject theirs and it confirmed to me that my injection was not normal. I told the nurse it hurt, and she said she administered it very slow because the serum was cold. Now I'm wondering if she injected it too high up in my arm (almost to my shoulder), and it that caused whatever I am experiencing now.

October 20, 2015 - 8:15am
EmpowHER Guest

Last October a nursing student gave me a flu shot too high up on my shoulder. I had intense shoulder pain, so I saw my primary care physician in November. He told me to see an orthopedist to get it checked out. When I saw the orthopedist in December, he said I had bursitis (inflammation) that could take 6 months to 1 year to fully go away. He said that Advil and "taking it easy" was all I could do. However, this past June, I decided to get another opinion because I still had pain. I saw a sports medicine doctor who fortunately ultrasounded my shoulder and found a large partial rotator cuff tear in my infraspinatus muscle. The doctor was shocked, as was I. I received an MRI, that confirmed the rotator cuff tear diagnosis. Apparently, because the flu vaccine was likely injected into my "acromioclavicular joint" instead of my deltoid muscle, my body experienced an immune-mediated reaction to the components of the vaccine. Research studies have shown that this is a possible side effect of the flu vaccine. As a result, I now have to live with this rotator cuff tear for the rest of my life. I deal with pain on a daily basis. Once my "partial tear" turns into a "full-thickness tear", I will have to have rotator cuff repair arthroscopic surgery. The surgery involves placing screwing screws into my bone in order to re-attach the infraspinatus tendon (a serious surgery with a 6-month recovery process). Apparently, rotator cuff tears of this nature are rare in my age group (I'm only 21 years old). So my situation is clearly the worst case scenario. If I only would have known about this potential consequence from receiving a flu shot too high in my shoulder, I would have never let a nursing student give me the shot.

October 12, 2015 - 6:41pm
EmpowHER Guest

I also used to get my flu shot every year (for at least 10 years in a row) with no issues or even soreness until Oct 2014 when I got my last flu shot. After the shot was administered in my arm; note the shot seemed to be given higher then the usual place, I also I couldn't move my arm at all for weeks. I could barely get dressed or sleep on that side. It took 5-6 months for this pain to go away completely and it went away very slowly & I still dont know what exactly caused the pain. Was it the flu vaccine itself or the way it was administered? I did report this on the CDC website and I encourage everyone to do the same if you feel you have been injured. I am not sure what is going on with all these injuries from the flu vaccine but I will never get another flu shot again!! I did go to my Primary Doctor and a Neurologist and there was nothing they could do other than tell me to wait a few months for the pain to go away, luckily for me it did. Good luck to you all that are experiencing this.

October 12, 2015 - 9:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I had my flu shot 3 weeks ago. I have had many shots over the years with no problems. This time I instantly felt pain going down my arm muscle. I had noticed the shot was given high up and to the back of my arm. My arm was not mobile for 2 days. I now have pain and limited movement with my arm. I tried icing, ibuprofen, icy hot patches, etc. I have had some relief especially at night, but each morning I exercise that arm and it seems to be helping. I have serious reservations about getting other flu shots in that arm.

October 11, 2015 - 6:12am
EmpowHER Guest

I've gotten the flu shot for the last three years. Last year I got I got my shot in October and in December I got full fledged flu. I saw on the news that there were a lot of complaints that the vaccine wasn't strong enough. I just got this year's flu shot four days ago and I never felt so bad my arm and shoulders hurt I even fill ache all over like I've been injected with the flu. This is the first time that I feel bad after getting flu shot. On the news they said this year's vacine would be much stronger.

October 4, 2015 - 11:04am
EmpowHER Guest

Earlier this year I reported severe arm pain from a flu shot last February. It persists and in fact seems to be worse. 8 months now. The pain is so bad I cannot sleep on that side, bend my arm behind my back or raise it above my shoulder. Sometimes I forget and make a movement that is rewarded with excruciating pain that slowly subsides. When I mention this to people they seem disinterested and often defensive, thinking I am attacking vaccines. I do not think they can know the sort of pain which I am trying to explain to them. The one person who has shown interest is a person at work who has put me on to a sports physiotherapist. I will try him to see if there is improvement. Regardless I will never have a flu shot again and certainly not while my arm is in this condition.

September 25, 2015 - 7:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I do have the same problem, and no one cares about!

October 16, 2015 - 11:35am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I had exactly the same thing happen to me. The thought is that the needle hit a nerve and cause the shoulder to freeze up. It is called frozen shoulder. The ONLY way I was able to resolve the condition was to use my arm as much as possible even to the point of extreme pain.

To give you encouragement, I had my left shoulder frozen for almost 2 years. I didn't start working it until a year into the problem (which made it harder to resolve) but once I did, it took me about a year to get my shoulder back to about 80%. It has been a few years now and I am 100% recovered

October 7, 2015 - 5:35pm
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