Although it’s rare, it’s possible to get seriously injured after receiving a vaccine. Doctors are seeing an increase in shoulder issues caused by a shot in the arm.
Before we tell you about the potential to hurt your shoulder, it’s important to note that doctors, including one who treats this injury, still recommend the vaccine. The potential risk from COVID far outweighs the risk of the shot.
It’s normal to have some side effects in your shoulder after a vaccine, around two-thirds of people do, but stiffness, weakness and/or pain after two days, you could have a diagnosable problem.
“We’re terming something that’s called Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration or SIRVA for short,” said Dr. Brian Hill, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the elbow and shoulder from JFK Medical Center’s North campus in West Palm Beach.
“Prevention is really the key,” he said.
One of the most common causes for long term shoulder pain is the vaccine goes into your arm too high.
So where is the best place in your arm for the vaccine?
Roll up your sleeve, find the bony end to your shoulder, and go three fingers down. Right below the third finger the perfect spot.
Another issue, especially for thin people: the shot goes too deep into your arm.
“Anything that you can tell the person giving it to you to maybe help remind them or make sure that they’re not going too deep or too high?” CBS 12 News reporter Andrew Lofholm asked Dr. Hill.
“Clearly presenting your shoulder. So, if you have a tight shirt on it’s a little harder to see where that bony protuberance is. Making sure they kind of understand that as well, showing your finger breadths,” Hill said.
Normal treatment for SIRVA is rest and over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.
For more severe cases: an anti-inflammatory shot at the injection site.
And worst case: surgery.
“Rarely, very rarely does anybody need surgery for it,” he said.
Hill says around two percent of people who have gotten the flu shot suffer from SIRVA. While it’s too early to say how many people the COVID vaccine has impacted, it could be more than the flu vaccine.
“Anecdotally, I’m seeing much more people in my clinic present with these sorts of issues that are presenting saying really, I have shoulder pain and weakness, it started shortly after the injection and I’ve been miserable for months,” he said.
“What would you say to someone who’s afraid to get the vaccine for this reason?” Lofholm asked Dr. Hill.
“I wouldn’t be too worried about it. Certainly, the risk of getting COVID and some of the new variants is much higher than just having shoulder pain. I’m a pro-vaccinator,” he said.