Don’t aim too high!
Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) is a complication related to incorrect administration of a vaccine and is often due to receiving a jab too high in the shoulder. With the recent mass vaccination program as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in shoulder-related pain. Yes, unsurprisingly after getting a vaccine you will experience some pain – most people would have told you their arm was sore for 24-48hrs after their COVID-19 jab and if they weren’t, lucky them! Pain in the shoulder after a vaccine is completely normal and usually subsides within a few days. Ongoing debilitating pain and reduced range that does not improve within a week of vaccination is problematic and known as SIRVA.
What are the symptoms of SIRVA and why do they occur?
Shoulder pain, shoulder weakness and neural symptoms associated with SIRVA typically develop within days after the vaccine and can last months or even years. SIRVA occurs in a small number of patients and is thought to be due to incorrect vaccine administration too high into the shoulder (specifically into the sub-deltoid bursa or within the joint space). Moreover, damage to local structures within the shoulder joint such as such as tendons and ligaments can occur as well as a local inflammatory response to the vaccine components, causing further pain and limited range.
Who is predisposed to SIRVA?
An individual with a slim build may be predisposed to developing SIRVA. Therefore, the smaller muscle bulk of the deltoid and deltoid fat pad in women compared to men may place them at higher risk.
SIRVA is an umbrella term in literature and can include any of the following; bursitis, tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, fluid accumulation in the deltoid or rotator cuff, adhesive capsulitis and subcortical bone osteitis – except, the difference being that the shoulder symptoms started within days of an intra-muscular vaccination. Within the clinic we have seen several presentations over the last 12 months which correlate with SIRVA. Most of these injuries have presented as either bursitis or adhesive capsulitis which occurred soon after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
SIRVA can be an extremely painful condition and should not be underestimated. The pain and limited range of movement can impact an individual’s ability to perform work duties, sporting activities and basic activities of daily living. Persistent symptoms for months can cause impacts on mental and emotional wellbeing.
Have you had shoulder pain or limited range that started a few days post-vaccination? Reach out today and get some help!
Written By William Lewis (Physiotherapist)