4 Types of Nerve Damage Caused by the Flu Shot


While most flu vaccinations do not result in any damage to the patient, the vaccine is not without risk.  In some instances, there is the potential for long-term damage to the shoulder where the injection was given. There are a number of different types of harm that can be done to the shoulder. Some of the side effects involve damage to the actual joint.

Other complications may result in an injury that affects the nervous system. Patients may be able to recover from these nerve injuries after a regimen of physical therapy. In the interim, however, nerve damage from flu vaccinations can have a drastic impact on the patient’s quality of life and ability to complete their daily activities.  Here is a list of the potential types of nerve damage that can result from the flu vaccine:

Parsonage Turner Syndrome

This illness primarily affects the nerves in the arm and hand. It will generally impact one side of the body, although in rare cases, it can impact both sides. PTS is caused when there is damage to the nerves that carry messages from the spinal cord to the arms and hands. The progression of PTS is the opposite of other neurological conditions that result from vaccinations. Here, patients will start off with severe pain, which is then followed by weakness.

While PTS can be treated, the symptoms will generally linger. It takes several months to several years for patients to make a recovery from PTS. Generally, the treatment for PTS will involve some sort of combination of steroids and physical therapy. If these are not effective, then surgery may be necessary.

Guillan Barre Syndrome

Guillan Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious complication from a flu vaccination. This illness usually occurs in the wake of an infection in the body. The immune system will work to fight off the infection. However, in the process, the immune system will also turn against the nervous system and damage the body’s nerves. There is no one single theory as to why the flu vaccine can increase the risk for GBS, but the vaccination does introduce strains of an infection into the body.

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GBS varies in its severity. The disease can lead to a loss of feeling and movement in extremities. Since the nervous system is at issue, there can also be a loss of reflexes, and some patients report incontinence. In a more severe manifestation of GBS, the patient’s respiratory function may be affected, which can lead to death.

There have been a number of documented fatalities from GBS in patients who have received a flu vaccination. Rates of GBS will vary each year, depending on the content of that year’s flu vaccine. While the connection between flu vaccine and GBS is not absolutely certain, there is at least some interrelation between the two. Some who suffer from GBS may never fully recover, while others can mostly recover with physical therapy.

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Axillary Nerve Damage

Sometimes, an error in the method of injection can damage the nerves in the shoulder. Like SIRVA, when the injection is given to the wrong part of the shoulder, it can have adverse effects that result in a loss of motion in the shoulder. Patients will feel a tingling and weakness in the shoulder that will progress to sharp pain.

This type of nerve damage will also result from the injection being administered too high on the shoulder. In one case of axillary nerve damage, a man received a vaccination at a drive through clinic. Within days, he began to experience weakness in his shoulder that degenerated over time. After five weeks, it was discovered that his deltoid muscle had atrophied.

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Patients will generally require physical therapy in order to regain the full use of their shoulder. Patients who do not response to physical therapy may need surgery to correct the problem. Many patients will regain most or all of the use of their shoulder, although some may have permanent symptoms.

Transverse Myelitis

This is a serious side effect of a flu vaccination where part of the spinal cord becomes inflamed. In turn, this damages the nerve cell’s insulation, interrupting the ability of the spinal cord to send messages throughout the body. As with anything that impacts the spine, there is the possibility for lasting damage. Anyone experiencing any symptoms of transverse myelitis should seek medical help immediately.

Most often, this will impact the area below the spinal cord, which are the lower extremities. In a more severe case of transverse myelitis, the patient will experience paralysis. There will also be pain, abnormal sensations and possible incontinence. Transverse myelitis can result in the aftermath of an infection. In the most severe cases, the patient will need emergency surgery when they experience compression of the spinal cord. While transverse myelitis is a rare side effect, there are roughly one to two cases for every million vaccinations. Given the number of flu vaccinations in the United States every year, there may be several hundred additional cases of transverse myelitis that result from this vaccination.

When you have experienced any one of these complications as a result of a flu vaccination, it is vital that you consult with an attorney to find out if you may be eligible for compensation. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates are well versed in these cases and can  advise you on the specifics of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Our attorneys can guide you through the process of filing a claim for your injuries.

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The first step in helping yourself or a loved one after a serious vaccine related injury is to contact us for a free review of your case.

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