Shoulder Pain 1 year after Incorrectly Given Flu Shot
Hi, I am a 27 year old female with NO prior history of shoulder injuries of any kind. I had a flu shot in August of 2011 which hurt a lot more than usual. When I looked at where the shot was given I noticed it was very high, and I had worsening pain over the next several days. I went in to the doctor and was given a cortisone shot, which helped until the end of the year. I put up with the pain for a couple more months and got another cortisone injection in March of 2012, which helped only a little bit. After this I tried physical therapy for several weeks, and that didn't help either, unfortunately, because not only do I have pain, but my strength and range of motion is severely decreased. The pain is present almost all of the time, but it is worse at night- I have lost many nights of sleep over it! I will wake up to a burning and throbbing arm. I finally went in recently and had an MRI of my shoulder, which showed part of the rotator cuff as irregular, thinned, and nonhomogenous with small fluid collections, possibly tendinosis or an incomplete tear. Has anyone had this happen as a result of a misgiven flu shot? Where should I go from here? I could put up with pain during the day but not ever sleeping is wearing on me!
I doubt the flu shot caused the rotator cuff problems although it may be possible, it is more likely that you just happened to get the flu shot when it started to hurt. It doesn't really matter medically, only legally, if you cannot afford medical treatment, and are planning to sue the person who gave you the injection. What a mess.
Nothing is worse for chronic pain than not being able to sleep at night, no matter what causes the pain. Sleeping restores us and allows us to get on with our day. I don't sleep well, for lots of reasons, it totally sucks.
I feel for you, hope you get some relief soon and disagree with the other person who commented, I don't think it's a coincidence. I never had a shoulder injury in my affected arm and have had excruciating pain in that shoulder since the day of my flu shot two weeks ago. I agree too that the person who gave it to me definitely didn't inject the same way I've received it in the past. It was injected very high on my shoulder and the angle he injected was very unusual, with the needle pointing upwards towards the top of my shoulder. I get some relief from max dose of naproxen and a heating pad but I can't get comfortable to sleep and wake up with shooting pains. I have an appointment with my primary care on Monday. The front desk said they have lots of reports of shoulder issues with this years shot. There's even apparently a special reporting process for it. I mentioned it to my mom tonight and she said "that's weird, your dad has been complaining about his shoulder since his flu shot but he said he just slept funny on it". Hope you feel better soon!
Also just so it's clear for me it has nothing to do with "suing" anyone. I will report my adverse event solely for the purpose of ruling out whether it is related to the shot and if it is helping to make sure other people don't have a similar bad experience.
A few years ago, my husband and I both got our flu shots at the local pharmacy and the pharmacist who gave them did it incorrectly, even after I warned her and she assured me she knew how to do it. (I am an old RN) She gave them to both of us far too high to hit the body of the muscle in the upper arm. She hit where the muscle attached to the bone. It hurt both of us for several days.
The pharmacist at the new place where we went last year and this year followed my instructions and did really well. You never know until you put your hand on the upper arm, exactly where the deltoid muscle goes in each individual. She even commented on this while she gave me my injection this year, having avoided the shoulder joint in another patient.
Doing lots and lots of injections is usually the key to giving good ones. Practice makes perfect.
The verdict is in for my shoulder injury and my primary care has reported to the vaccine adverse event reporting system. There's a small tear in the rotator cuff. Presumably the inappropriate injection location (which was still visible because of bruising) likely caused swelling (but thankfully not a tear) in the bursa and when I continued to use my shoulder the added pressure from the bursa swelling caused a rotator tear. Some could argue that the tear was there before and that could be right (although it would have been an injury I have absolutely no memory of receiving), I don't really care where it came from, just that if it in any way was caused or even just irritated by the high injection site that the administrator is made aware the appropriate way to inject so that its less likely to happen to someone else. I realized in hindsight that with past immunizations the person giving it would usually squeeze the skin together with one hand and inject with the other, perhaps that too would have helped to ensure injection to the muscle and not the bursa. The tear theoretically may even already have been there from something else and the injection swelling at the joint irritated. Either way the injection administration was certainly wrong and has been reported. The doctor is hopeful that a course of steroids and limited use will be enough for full recovery. If not maybe PT or surgery Thankfully just limiting movement helps with the pain so I'm not becoming pain medicine dependent (although definitely need them to be able to get comfortable enough to sleep thru the night) and that encourages me to think it can be healed without surgical intervention.
I am so petrified after reading your shoulder problem after receiving a flu shot high in your shoulder! I had exactly the same experience a month ago - mentioned that I thought it was an odd place for the shot - and have had agonizing pain in the shoulder ever since. I had been away (enjoying Hurricane Sandy) and was unable to contact my doctor but did immediately upon return. Anyway, after taking a prescription anti-inflammatory (which made me so groggy I could hardly function) with no improvement, went back to the doctor who told me that the site I showed her where I received the shot isn't where a shot would be given. (So, I'm a liar???) When I'm busy during the day, the pain subsides to a place where I can tolerate it but 45 minutes after laying down to sleep, the pain becomes so extreme I can't sleep. I literally have to use my "good" arm to lift my "bad" arm to even move it. I am now doing ibuprofen only (starting tonight) - and need to return to the doc in 2 weeks if it isn't better. I'm afraid I have nerve damage from the location of the shot but of course, there is no inflammation of the area at this point. Thanks for letting me sound off! But it sure is scarry!
So glad to find these postings! I put off making an appointment for the last 8 weeks - I finally made one with an orthopedic doctor next Thursday. Who would have thought that a flu shot would cause such problems!! It's reassuring to see that I'm not "dreaming it"...
Hi, I am 54 old female and had to get a mandatory flu shot this year. I usually do not get flu shots not because I feel they may cause problems but because of what I have read don't believe they really protect you from much. I also do not get sick often. The nurse that gave my shot also injected very high in my left shoulder & immediately afterwards I developed a pain in my left upper back right at my scapula. I have had this burning sensation for over 2 mos. I reported it immediately but workers comp is denying that it can be related to the flu shot. I have never experienced this type of pain. My range of motion is not limited it is this constant burning pain at my left scapula. The only relief is either laying flat or firm pressure. I am a very active person, only need to lose about 10lbs & very healthy. Luckily my pain does not bother me when I am lying flat only when I am upright.
I do hope you get well soon with the use of the steroids.
The pharmacist who gave me my flu vaccine injection this year (not the year when the pharmacist gave it too high), mentioned that now she was feeling the muscle with her left hand and giving the shot with her right hand, and she really had noticed that everyone is created a bit differently. She understood what I had said about giving the injection into the "body" of the muscle, and not into the insertion site where it connects to the bone. It is nice to know that someone got it and will pass that knowledge along to others.
Take care, Annette
Thanks for your Reply!
Hello: Because of all the media warnings about the flu this year, my husband and I decided that I should also get the flu shot, which I seldom get. I was in a hurry, so on January 10th of this year (2013), I went to the closest CVS. When the pharmacist administered the shot it was very painful, so I look to see why and I also noticed that the shot was being given very high up in my arm. It was close to the shoulder joint and hurt very much. I thought she might have hit the shoulder bone. That was the beginning of my shoulder trouble. Since then, I have seen 2 orthopedic doctors, had an ex-ray, one cortisone shot, physical therapy for 2 months, 6 days of prednisone pills-3 pills for 2 days, 2 pills, for 2 days and 1 pill for 2 days. I do my PT exercises faithfully every day and after all this my shoulder still hurts a lot. It hurts more at night when I am in bed and more in the morning before I get up and move it around. Lying on the injured shoulder only makes it worse. I do tai chi and find that gently moving it helps a little bit. I was up a 4:00 again this morning and I am feeling very tired these days. The orthopedic doctor told me that he sees several people a year who come in complaining that they have great shoulder pain and have very little range of motion in their arms after a flu shot. He is not sure why. The only thing that I can tell you that helps me is putting cold packs on my shoulder and moving it gently during tai chi or when I get up in the morning. The prednisone pills helped a little also. I hope we both feel better soon. If you are feeling better, please let me know what you did. Good luck.
Sorry about the shoulder pain~ ugh! when it hurts to move your arm, it seems that whatever you're doing, you feel the pain.
Just a quick idea: Have any of your MDs mentioned Lidoderm patches? It's not like fentanyl or Bu-Trans, which are opiates that are absorbed into systemic circulation through the skin, but rather a local anesthetic agent- kind of like "Icy Hot", but impregnated with a pharmaceutical numbing agent.
If none has mentioned this product, perhaps it would be worthy of doing a Google search. By reading about it, you may find that you'd like to give it a try.
I'm glad there were recent responses, otherwise I may not have thought to give an update as well. It's been about 4 months since my flu shot and I am now active again but at a cost. It's aggravated my shoulder pain which was not bothering me at all after the steroids in November. My doctor says surgery is the only solution but I'm trying natural anti-inflammatories and some modified yoga stretches which others have reported were helpful. At this point it hurts all the time unless I keep it moving and stretched. It's a really delicate balance because if I attempt an activity which puts too much weight on it like a modified plank then it's a searing pain, if I don't do anything then it's a searing pain, but if I dance it hurts when I'm first starting and then halfway thru an hour long dance class it almost entirely stops hurting and i have relief from the worst of it for at least 24 hours. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about it as we'll because when I'm emotional and focus on the pain it seems to hurt more. I definitely have no interest in surgery or any more narcotic medicine and will delay it as long as possible in hopes to finding a less invasive and non-drug related cure. The working theory on the yoga stretches is to strengthen the surrounding muscles and then they take the majority of the load instead of the rotator cuff. I hope others with similar experiences find a good non-surgical treatment that works long term or if you do opt for surgery that its a quick recovery. If I opt for the flu shot next year it definitely will be administered at the doctors office and not a pharmacy and I may also have someone else videotape the injection so that if there's a problem there is proof of the administration (although you better believe I won't let anyone get close to my shoulder joint ever again!). Best to everyone and hoping for some relief for us all.
I belly dance for an hour every night. In my TV room with DVDs, no humans are allowed to watch, lol.
I have found the same thing you have, I forget about having pain while I am doing it. I do not have the 24 hour relief that you mentioned, but at least it does not hurt right then.
As far as the flu shots are concerned, speak up and take your business elsewhere. We did that, and they listened and modified their process. Make sure the injection is delivered to the body of the muscle, not the very top near the insertion site.
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