Winter is coming and that’s cold enough. The last thing you need is a frozen shoulder in addition to the freezing temps. Unfortunately, as we transition into cold and flu season, the seemingly innocuous flu shot can lead to stiffness in one’s shoulder. I will treat two to three people every year with a complaint of shoulder pain and mobility loss due to stiffness in the weeks or months following their injection. The issue will arise in the arm that was injected and the malady may arise from the mild pain secondary to the injection 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.
A 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 a 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.
Immediately before your injection, implement these 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.
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.
Twin Cities Shoulder
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 30 years. He can be reached at 952-922-0330.