WHAT IS SIRVA?
SIRVA stands for “Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration.” It can happen when a vaccine is injected into the shoulder too high or too deep and can cause several types of injuries. However, SIRVA can also occur when a vaccine is properly administered as well. This injury can, in turn, lead to intense, prolonged pain, limited range of motion, and shoulder-related injuries such as Adhesive Capsulitis or Frozen Shoulder Syndrome.
SIRVA can be caused by an injury to the musculoskeletal structures of the shoulders (for example tendons, ligaments, bursa) during the injection of a vaccine. Additionally, it can also be caused by the body’s immune system reacting adversely to one or more components of the vaccine.
The seasonal flu shot, among other vaccinations, is the most common cause of SIRVA because the vaccine is given annually to millions of people in the deltoid muscle of the arm. However, it’s important to note that although the risk of a SIRVA injury always exists, it is rare.
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Symptoms of SIRVA
Severe shoulder pain is the most common symptom of SIRVA. Symptoms typically occur between 0 – 48 hours after the injection. Most people complain of persistent shoulder pain and limited range of motion, however, those are not the only injuries. Other injuries include:
- Frozen Shoulder
- Shoulder Tendonitis
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Shoulder Bursitis
- Adhesive Capsulitis
- Brachial Neuritis
- Impingement Syndrome
Treatment of SIRVA
In most cases, symptoms can be treated with pain medication, like an anti-inflammatory, and physical therapy to reduce swelling and improve the range of motion. Although sometimes injections of corticosteroids are necessary. Additionally, many patients continue to experience pain, even after treatment. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage done to the shoulder’s ligaments and tendons.