Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) could be an issue for you if you’ve received a vaccine. Though people often worry about the contents of vaccines, the medication itself is not the only thing that can cause problems. There is a rare side effect of the flu shot, SIRVA, that can leave you with chronic shoulder pain long after you’ve received the shot. In most cases, pain, swelling and tenderness around any injection goes away within 24 to 48 hours. However, if the vaccine isn’t given in the right location, then a shoulder injury could occur. 

SIRVA is extremely rare. When it does occur, it usually happens within 48 hours of the shot. It causes symptoms such as stiffness in the shoulder, weakness and shoulder pain. Sometimes, it results in nerve injury or brachial neuritis, which is the inflammation of the brachial nerve. 

Most cases of SIRVA occur when a person receives the flu vaccine because of where it is administered. It’s important to know that any kind of vaccine can cause SIRVA, however. SIRVA is a direct result of inserting a needle too deeply into the deltoid muscle. If that happens, the muscle may be penetrated and could damage the joint capsule or rotator cuff. Sometimes, the radial and axillary nerves can be injured.

How is SIRVA treated?

Someone with SIRVA may need an ultrasound scan for diagnosis. Then, corticosteroid injections and anti-inflammatory medications can be used to help treat SIRVA. Some people benefit from going through physiotherapy. 

If you’ve suffered a vaccine-related injury, you may be able to pursue a claim. Medical providers should know how to inject patients safely to avoid this serious and painful complication.