I will treat two to three people every year with a complaint of shoulder pain and mobility loss due to regional stiffness in the days, weeks or months following their annual flu vaccination. With the COVID outbreak, an even greater number of the population will receive an injection this year, heightening the chances for this problem. The issue may arise from pain secondary to the injection itself or our body’s response to the injectable. This is a malady that can be prevented but can become a multi-month moderately impairing nuisance if not addressed properly.
Why Shots can Lead to Shoulder Pain
A traditional flu shot introduces a weakened antigen (virus) into your body allowing your body to create the necessary antibody to knock out the real thing when it comes along. This forces your body to work autonomically (automatically) via your immune system to solve a problem. Autonomic activities are by definition reactive in nature and due to their flight or fight nature have a cascading affect in the body.
One such ramification is that of stiffening joint structure; another autonomic way of protecting a joint by making it stiff to prevent you from using it. This process worked well millenniums ago when people were satisfied with resting until a problem resolved. Unfortunately in today’s society, this concept is not adhered to.
Stretch Before Your Injection
Immediately before your injection, implement the following movement patterns to appreciate the existing amount of mobility that you have with each pattern. Following your injection, do the same on a daily basis for the first week, every other day the second week and once a week for the next two weeks to ensure the resolution of any lingering impairment. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds and repeat 1-2 times if progress with mobility continues; there should be no significant pain or lingering symptoms.
These movement patterns will also serve as a treatment tool if you feel a bit stiff. If these movement patterns do not resolve the stiffness in a few days or there is odd pain or ongoing discomfort with motion contact our office to assess the shoulder and get you started on the correct program to resolve the issue before it becomes a greater problem.
TCShoulder is a specialty clinic within OrthoRehab Specialists. Terry Buisman PT has specialized in adult shoulder as well as combined shoulder and spinal injury for over 35 years. He can be reached at 952-922-0330.