It can be difficult to figure out where your shoulder injury originated. Did it come from that softball game last week? Or maybe you sleep funny last night? Or is that old football injury acting up again?
In some cases, your shoulder injury may have been caused by a reaction to a vaccine. Below, we address some of the most common issues regarding shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration, also known as SIRVA.
Are shoulder injuries from improper vaccine administration a growing problem?
SIRVA, or Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, manifests as shoulder pain and limited range of motion occurring as a result of the administration of a vaccine injection. While some degree of pain may be expected from any shoulder injection, the improper administration of a vaccine can cause severe, often debilitating, pain, which can lead to complications. Pain lasting longer than a few days is not associated with the normal side effects of receiving a vaccination.
What are common diagnoses associated with SIRVA?
The most common diagnoses associated with SIRVA are brachial neuritis, brachial plexus, torn rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis, shoulder bursitis, shoulder tendinitis, and shoulder impingement syndrome.
The relevant medical and scientific literature suggests that SIRVA is due to an inflammatory effect from vaccine administration into the subdeltoid bursa. This inflammatory response may be due either to the antigenic or nonantigenic components of the vaccine (antimicrobial, preservative, etc). They based these assumptions on the consistent presentations of adhesive capsulitis (as demonstrated by the patient's pain, lack of motion, weakness, and impaired mobility/functionality) and multiple noted pathologies on imaging, more than would be expected by the trauma of vaccination.
How common are SIRVA?
Approximately 70% of cases are flu shot shoulder injuries which are most commonly administered to adults. It is thought that the flu shot is the most common cause of SIRVA injuries simply due to the sheer volume of flu shots administered to the general public year after year. It is important to note that any vaccine that is administered improperly can cause a SIRVA injury.
Recent scientific studies on the topic, including Bodor and Montalvo in 2006, and Atanasoff in 2010 and Barnes in 2012, hypothesized that weakness and pain in the shoulder following influenza and other vaccinations were administered too high in the deltoid muscle. In order to avoid SIRVA, they concluded that the upper third of the deltoid or shoulder muscle should not be used for vaccine injections.
The literature suggests that doctors must consider SIRVA as part of the differential diagnosis in patients presenting with acute shoulder pain after vaccine administration. The growing number of cases and events reported to VAERS (the vaccine adverse event reporting database) serve as a reminder for what may be an underreported condition. This underreporting may be due, in part, to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System being a passive reporting mechanism or to concerns for medicolegal implications for reporting.
PA & NJ Vaccine Injury Attorney
SIRVA injuries by and large must be litigated in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program by a skilled vaccine lawyer. These cases cannot be brought in a person’s local court or by a local plaintiff’s attorney. At Green & Schafle LLC, we have skilled vaccine lawyers, licensed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. who are ready to represent your interests. We represent clients in all 50 states in addition to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. If you know someone with a flu shot shoulder injury, please let us know so that a free legal consultation can be given to you or a loved one.