I just got the flu shot – Why does my arm hurt?
Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus travels from person to person through infectious droplets expelled from the nose or mouth, but chances of contracting the virus decrease between 40-60% with the administration of a flu shot. Some individuals suffer pain following vaccination, but there are ways to lower the likelihood of experiencing flu shot pain.
Many people experience pain after receiving the vaccination. Flu shot pain is the sensory response to the immune system’s process of producing antibodies and developing immunity, which is what prevents a vaccinated individual from contracting the disease.
With general fear of muscle pain and as much as 10% of the US population suffering from a fear of needles, many people shy away vaccination each year. Pain, however, is minimal and should not last more than a few days. Although it might seem unavoidable, there are some ways to reduce the risk of shoulder pain and muscle soreness following vaccination.
What can I do to avoid flu shot pain?
If mild arm soreness is off-putting, compare it to the whole-body achiness that comes with contracting the flu virus. Consider these methods for reducing flu shot pain following:
- Avoid Tensing Your Muscle During Vaccination: Take some deep breaths and clear your mind of any worry before you receive the shot. If you’re among the 10% of U.S. citizens afraid of needles, try looking away to avoid tensing your muscle as the needle enters the skin.
- Move Your Arm After the Shot: Moving your arm post-injection aids in spreading the vaccination away from the injection site. While the initial pressure and discomfort may lead you instinctively to keep your arm still, the high concentration of medication in one spot can lead to muscle soreness later.
- Don’t Skip Your Work-Out Routine: Moderate exercise will temporarily boost your body’s immune system for several hours and promotes blood circulation, leading the medication to be dispersed throughout muscle tissue.
- Use a Cool Compress: As you begin to experience muscle soreness, acting quickly can go a long way toward a speedy recovery and reducing discomfort. A cool compress acts twofold to reduce inflammation and numb the nerves in the skin.
- Take a Pain Reliever: If pain persists, an over-the-counter pain reliever may provide some relief. Keep in mind that if pain lasts longer than a few days, it may be wise to check in with your doctor.
While you cannot contract the flu from the flu shot, vaccines, like any medication, come with the risk of side effects.
Common side effects include: (1) Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; (2) low grade fever; (3) muscle aches; or (4) toughness/itching at the injection site. These reactions typically present soon after the flu shot and last one to two days.
If you experience a life-threatening allergic reaction, such as (1) breathing problems (2) hoarseness or wheezing; (3) hives; (4) paleness; (5) weakness; (6) increased heart rate; or (7) dizziness, seek medical attention immediately.
In some cases, symptoms of reaction persist and can develop into long-term illnesses.
Injuries Associated with the Flu Vaccine in the NVICP include:
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Brachial Neuritis
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Transverse Myelitis (TM)
If the resulting injury lasts more than 6 months, results in surgical intervention during inpatient hospitalization, or results in death, you may be eligible to petition for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Vaccines are an important part of public health, working to save lives by preventing disease. Most of the time, vaccines are administered without any serious problems. Like with any medication, however, there is a risk of side effects, ranging from mild to serious.
For this reason, the US government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), a “no-fault” alternative to the traditional legal system. Petitions can be filed by any individual, at any age, after developing an injury believed to be a result of a covered vaccine, if jurisdictional requirements are met.
Conway Homer, P.C. is the most experienced vaccine injury law firm in the United States. We represent clients from all 50 states and have advocated for landmark cases that have shaped the Vaccine Program and made it friendlier and more generous to those individuals who suffer from vaccine injuries.
To get in touch with our dedicated team, click here for a free consultation.