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

By December 7, 2008 - 7:32am
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Pain from flu shot

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 year...my 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

In September 2017 I received a flu shot for the 25th year in a row, no issues and no flu in 25 years. In the past several years I have goten my flu shot at a local CVS Minute Clinic. Last year the Clinic was busy so the pharmacist gave me the shot instead. After several months, when the pain did not go away, I went to my doctor and was informed that I have something the CDC calls SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration). He said it's NOT about the flu shot per se, but it caused by ANY vaccine being administered too HIGH or too LOW, somehow affecting the deltoid muscle in the arm. Thinking back, it felt like the pharmacist was injecting me pretty low but I did not question it at the time. I have had (off and on) pain in my arm, back, shoulder and neck. I'd love to know how I can get rid of this pain without drugs or shots, which all have long-term effects. Sometimes I even have to ice my back while at work or the pain awakens me at night. I'm about to get another flu shot and my doctor said to get it in my other arm.

October 28, 2018 - 8:50am
EmpowHER Guest

I work at a hospital clinic... they came around and gave shots... I have had pain in my right arm ever since. The second day there was a 3 inch know in my right arm. Now it wakes me up if I turn and lay on that arm. It is painful just working. I have never had anything like this since getting flu shots... it is a continuous dull aching pain.

October 25, 2018 - 9:15am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm having the same symptoms right now. MRI shows I have some tears.. have been getting the flu shot for 10 years without a problem. I dont know if flu shot caused a tear or just sparked the pain. If I had any tear in my arm before the flu shot I had no symptoms and no idea I had any tears at all. I just started physical therapy.

October 19, 2018 - 4:41am

The thing that helped me the most was a cortisone shot in my shoulder for the Frozen Shoulder I had developed. There are some shoulder exercises you can do also. Some use a large stretching band.

October 11, 2018 - 3:15pm
EmpowHER Guest

Had the same experience this year (Sept 2018). Went to Target CVS clinic for flu shot and two weeks later I cannot lift my arm up in front of my face or straight up without severe difficulty and pain. I know I was relaxed when she gave me the shot, and I've had one every year for many, many years. This time I felt it immediately and she even knew she hit something that I was definitely "going to feel". I'm hope this isn't long-term!

October 11, 2018 - 11:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I have had the same arm discomfort for 2 weeks now, after receiving flu shot. I have tried heat, cold and muscle relaxers. Nothing is helping. Is this now a condition for life ?

November 5, 2018 - 5:46am
EmpowHER Guest

My symptoms are less severe and a bit different. Got a flu shot every year for decades w/ minimal side effects. Winter 2017, pointed out a cyst on my arm (as I always do - don't want to get jabbed there) and she administered the shot in my tricep, under the usual area. Over the next week, moderate localized soreness diminished, but spread, creeping down my arm, all the way to the wrist. Over the 2nd week, the soreness changed to numbness & tingling and crept down to my pinky & ring fingers. There was one day during the first few weeks, when the tingling radiate up to the left side of my face. That was gone the next day; what a relief. Now, Sept 2018, almost one year later, I still feel the numbness and tingling. This morning it was more than usual. Impact-wise, I'm far less affected than many people posting here, but the tingling is worrisome. I think I'll skip the shot this year. EVERYONE GOOGLE 'VAERS CDC' AND FILE A REPORT. You don't have to know every detail in the checklist - they will take whatever info you can provide.

September 22, 2018 - 10:06am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

My entire shoulder area is still sore and hurts to raise my arm since gettin a flu shot at CVS pharmacy over 2 weeks ago. This has never happened before and I usually go to CVS minute clinic. This is the first year I received a flu shot (at their recommendation) from the pharmacy. The pharmacist really jabbed my arm! The nurse practitioner at Minute Clinic is so gentle I never feel the injections.

September 24, 2018 - 7:35am
EmpowHER Guest

I don't know if this forum is still active but since the last post was in late 2017 I'll go ahead and give it a shot (no pun intended) and share my story.

I recieved the flu shot at the end of October 2017. It was administered by a "nurse" at my workplace medical center who, quite frankly, looking back on it came across inept at best. I should've went with my gut and backed out but rationally I felt like my fears were unfounded so I went ahead with it. When she went forward and gave me the injection she gave it in an unusually high location on my arm--practically right into the shoulder joint. During the initial injection there was a slight burning pain. Soon after I felt as if somebody had punched me in the arm. Thinking it was just a routine reaction to the injection and the vaccine I brushed it off. Over the next 24 to 48 hours the pain worsened dramatically. It increased to the point where I could barely move my arm. I was in so much pain that my quality of life was greatly reduced over the next several weeks. It was next to impossible to do something as simple as put on a jacket or shave, use the bathroom, or dress myself without experiencing horrible pain using my arm. I could not sleep on that arm and in fact had trouble sleeping for a good month after the injection because the pain was so severe that it would wake me up multiple times at night and I would have to adjust myself accordingly. It hurt just to move or get out of bed and I had to take it slow for several weeks. Over the next two to three months I regain mobility of my arm again but it was not the same. Almost 6 months later I'm still suffering from chronic pain daily. There's a persistent ache at the injection site and in an area about the size of a fist surrounding the location. The pain will lessen at times but doing even routine housework, minor yard work, or carrying groceries is enough to spark a painful flare-up that can last for days. I still have limited mobility in my arm and have trouble with certain movements like reaching across my chest, out to my side, behind my back, or above my head. I am limited as far as workout routines go and can no longer lift even a 5 or 10 lb free weight with that arm or do a push up or yoga. Basically anything involving that arm has to be ruled out and I'm always having to find ways to work around it. Any weight put on that arm causes a painful burning aching fatigue almost equal to what it feels like when you weight lift to the point of failure and can't lift a single rep more.

The worst part about all of this is that I reported the injury to my workplace medical center and gave them the date and time of my injection. They acknowledged the fact that I was experiencing pain but recommended very little in the way of treatment beyond icing it and ibuprofen, neither of which work (in fact I haven't found a single OTC painkiller that has). I've even gone to see a deep tissue massage therapist in hopes that I would see some relief to no avail. In fact that just seemed to aggravate it. To add insult to injury the medical center at work had no record of the nurse who gave me the injection so I can't even identify the person involved in the botched job.

I know with absolute certainty that it was the injection that caused this pain and injury. Before receiving my flu shot I have never experienced any pain in that joint. I never experienced an injury related to either work or physical activity outside of work to that arm. I felt perfectly fine. It was within hours and then the preceding days following the shot that the pain immediately began and has persisted ever since. A month prior to the injection I was on layoff from work so I wasn't even actively working to have injured it. I also did not experience a fall, an injury of any kind, nor was involved in any workout routine at the time of previous to injection so for anyone to tell me that it wasn't directly related to the injection is bull. I'm just terrified now because I'm months away from returning to work and this pain and injury have yet to subside and my job is heavily reliant on using my arms and lifting weight and using reaching and pulling motions and to think about what further injury or pain it may cause is giving me anxiety. While on layoff I also don't have medical coverage so I'm not able to go to a doctor and experience any sort of relief or therapy or even get an MRI or X-ray for them to look at what could possibly be wrong. I'm only 30 and to think that I may be looking at a painful lifelong chronic condition that could have been easily avoided is mortifying, especially given my job position. This entire situation is putting my livelihood at jeopardy. I regret the day I went in and got that flu shot and I will never be getting another one ever again because of this. I just can't afford to risk it.

April 29, 2018 - 12:16pm

Two years ago I posted here severe arm pain following a flu shot. So debilitating I swore never to have another flu shot. I stand by that. The pain persisted well over a year. Finally my doctor sent me to a specialist. He diagnosed it as 'mild' arthritis in my upper arm. He admitted there was an outside chance the flu shot could have aggravated something but seriously minimized it. Now, after two years, the pain has subsided and I have full motion back in my arm. Can sleep at night on that side. If it is/was arthritis the flare up immediately following the flu shot is odd timing. I will never take that chance and have a flu shot again even though my doctor insists it is an irresponsible decision that could affect other peoples' lives.

November 8, 2017 - 7:22pm
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