Is Your Arm Numb after Flu Shot? 5 Injuries You Can Get After a Flu Shot


Flu season brings millions of people to their local pharmacy or doctor to get the flu shot. All vaccines have side effects and flu shots are no different. From nerve damage to shoulder injury, vaccines can cause injury. While the diseases vaccines prevent are important to public health, it is equally important for people to be made aware of some of the known side effects of a flu shot beyond soreness.

Is your arm numb after flu shot?

Then you may have suffered side effects from the flu shot.

If the numbness or tingling is in your upper arm then you may have a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration or SIRVA. If the numbness is below your elbow then it maybe a median or ulnar nerve injury. If you suffer numbness or tingling in your hands or feet then you may have a form of guillain barre syndrome or GBS. If you suffer severe pain followed by weakness in your arm then you may have brachial neuritis. These are just some of the reasons your arm is numb after receiving the flu shot.

Flu shot side effects range from injection site soreness or swelling to nerve damage to chronic pain with long term damage. Symptoms sometimes begin days or weeks after the flu shot and can result in permanent nerve damage.

People willing to get a flu shot are willing to suffer some soreness, muscle aches, or swelling at the injection site to prevent getting the flu. However, when a common side effect of soreness or swelling turns into numbness, weakness, or pain then you may have suffered a serious vaccine related side effect.

Flu shots can cause devastating injuries. These injuries can prevent you from moving your arm and can take away your ability to live a normal life. Whether it is due to a reaction of your immune system or the way in which the vaccine was given, flu shot injuries can be life threatening. If you have had a flu shot and are experiencing pain or an adverse reaction, you must seek medical attention.

Here are five injuries can explain why your arm is number after flu shot.

  1. Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
  2. Median and Ulnar Nerve Injury – Numbness or Pain below the Elbow
  3. Brachial Neuritis or Parsonage-Turner Syndrome
  4. Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) or Polyneuritis
  5. Chronic Inflammatory Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)

SIRVA is one of the most common flu shot injuries that you can suffer and it is a condition way beyond the feeling of soreness or swelling at the injection site. SIRVA happens when the vaccine is injected too high in the deltoid muscle of your shoulder. This is unfortunately more common than you would think. Since flu vaccines are given in many different places such as drive-in clinics, pharmacies, and on the job, the people giving the shots may not be fully trained in how to correctly administer a flu vaccine. The biggest culprit behind SIRVA injuries is when the vaccine administration is too high in the upper arm.

SIRVA occurs when the injection is given into the subdeltoid bursa, in some cases there are reports of the flu shot going directing into the shoulder joint. The subdeltoid bursa is the area directly underneath the deltoid muscle. Administration of the flu shot in this area means that the technician administered too high on the shoulder. This error happens in one of two days. First, the technician failed to landmark the proper place for the injection. Second, the technician was standing over the patient when they administered the flu shot. When injection in the subdeltoid bursa happens, you will begin to feel pain within 48 hours after the injection.

Eventually, this pain will lead to a loss in the range of motion in your shoulder, trouble sleeping, and even frozen shoulder. In some cases, SIRVA can be treated with physical therapy, although recovery usually takes many months. In other instances, the damage from SIRVA can be permanent and can rob you of your ability to work and enjoy many of your daily activities. SIRVA is now the most common flu vaccine injury based on claims filed with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

The pharmacies that are causing this public health crisis need to be held accountable. Unfortunately, vaccine administrators, like pharmacy technicians, cannot be sued for malpractice or negligence. In order to get compensation for your SIRVA injury, you need to go through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Our vaccine injury attorneys at Sadaka law have handled many SIRVA related injuries in the VICP.

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Median and Ulnar Nerve Injury – Numbness or Pain below the Elbow

The injection of the flu shot in your upper arm can cause havoc below your elbow. There are reports of injuries to both the median and ulnar nerves.

The median nerve is the big one that runs down your arm to give you feeling in your palm. The median nerve provides feeling to the palm side of the thumb, index finger, long finger and half of the ring finger. If this nerve gets damaged by entrapment, it causes arm pain and weakness in your grip, which could be permanent if not treated.

The ulnar nerve travels from your neck down into your hand and can be constricted in several places along the way, such as beneath the collarbone or at the wrist. Once the ulnar nerve passes the elbow, it travels the inside of your forearm and into your hand on the side of the palm with the little finger. Improper administration of the flu shot in the upper arm can cause nerve entrapment and damage to both the median and ulnar nerves with symptoms according below the elbow.

Brachial Neuritis or Parsonage-Turner Syndrome

Brachial neuritis or Parsonage-Turner Syndrome comes from damage to the nerves in your brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a bunch of nerves in the shoulder that carries movement and sensory signals from the spinal cord to the arms and hands. Medical science does not really understand how the condition happens, but it is thought that the damage to the nerves happen through inflammation or other activity of the immune system. Symptoms start as severe, often debilitating pain that goes away and is replaced with weakness. In fact, the weakness can get so bad that the muscles in the shoulder (the scapula mostly) can get smaller (or atrophy) causing a disfigurement called scapular winging or loss of the use of your arm.

Medical science 100% accepts that brachial neuritis can be caused by the tetanus vaccine. Medical science is also beginning to accept that the flu shot can cause the condition as well. Symptoms usually begin 1 to 42 days after vaccination and can spread to affect both of your arms at the same time.

For some patients, the symptoms of brachial neuritis will go away on their own after several months. However, during that time, the symptoms are debilitating and can keep you from living a normal life. Other patients will require physical therapy and other interventions to restore full function of their arms and shoulders. In more extreme occurrences of brachial neuritis, patients will require surgery to reverse the damage.

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Guillain-Barre Syndrome

GBS is a dangerous condition that occurs when your immune system attacks your nervous system. There are two parts of your nervous system, the central (brain and spine) and peripheral (arms, legs, hands, feet, lungs, etc.). GBS attacks the peripheral nerves. In fact, the first symptoms of GBS are numbness or tingling in the hands or feet (peripheral nerves).

You can get GBS from bacterial infections and viruses, like the flu. Your immune system sees this virus or bacteria and mounts an immune response. GBS occurs when some of that immune response targets the peripheral nerves. This concept is called autoimmunity.

The seasonal flu shot contains a version of the flu virus, A (swine flu), that is a known trigger of GBS. We know this from the studies the U.S. government conducted in the 1970s and 1980s on people in the military who received swine flu vaccines during a pandemic.

Symptoms of GBS can take 3 to 4 weeks to develop. The first sign of GBS is numbness or tingling in your hands or feet. There could be weakness, but that is usually a sign of another condition called CIDP, explained below. People who suffer from GBS are usually hospitalized. The damage to the peripheral nerves causes difficulty walking and using their arms. In some cases, patients will have difficulty swallowing and breathing, and this is where GBS becomes life-threatening.

Recovery from GBS is not always easy, although patients can fully recover from it. In other instances, patients can experience lifelong effects from GBS. Our vaccine injury attorneys at Sadaka Law have successfully recovered compensation for flu shot related GBS.

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Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

People think of CIDP as a chronic form of GBS. However, medical science accepts CIDP as a completely separate condition. None-the-less, like GBS, it also involves an instance where the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.

Like with GBS, the protein that protects the nerves called myelin are attacked and damaged. When this happens, the myelin is lost, leaving the nerves unable to communicate with muscles correctly. When the nerves are damaged, they cannot carry messages to and from the brain and it will affect the body’s ability to carry on normal daily functions. CIDP can lead to weakness, numbness, tingling, and other loss of sensation. In a worst-case scenario, CIDP can lead to paralysis.

CIDP will generally start in the legs and progress to the arms and shoulders. It can even lead to facial paralysis and difficulty breathing. Patients will require an intense form of treatment called IVIG therapy where the blood is filtered and certain antibodies are removed. After that, patients will need prolonged physical therapy to recover as much normal function as they can.

See Our Results

Recovery: $5,328,078.77 for CIDP from Flu Shot.  $5,000,000.00 + recovery for a 42-year-old executive and father of two who suffered Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) after receiving the influenza (flu) vaccine.

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Allergic Reactions

Flu shots contain proteins of the two variants of virus (A & B) with other filler and stabilizers. Some vaccine manufacturers grow the virus in eggs and that may result in an allergic reaction in someone who has an allergy to eggs.

Patients may be allergic to some of the contents of the vaccine and not know it until after they have received the vaccine. Some allergic reactions to a flu vaccine are a mild side effect. However, in rare cases, the patient can experience a severe reaction that can be life threatening. This is called an anaphylactic reaction and requires immediate treatment.

In an anaphylactic reaction, the patient can experience shortness of breath or swelling of the throat. The patient will need an immediate injection to counter the effects of the allergic reaction. This will alleviate many of the symptoms of the allergic reaction.

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If you or a loved one have been injured by a flu vaccination, you may be entitled to financial compensation.  Contact our vaccine injury attorneys at Sadaka Law to discuss your legal rights and your possible eligibility for compensation.

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