Vaccine in the Shoulder

UPDATE AS OF 04/05/2021: The Department of Health and Human Services is in the processing of withdrawing the SIRVA rule change. Read this blog to learn more: https://shannonlawgroup.com/hhs-rescinds-proposal-to-remove-sirva-from-vaccine-injury-table/.

If you believe you have a shoulder injury as a result of a vaccine, contact us today for more details. Your time may be limited to pursue a claim. 

If you want to learn more about SIRVA, keep reading. Thank you!



After a vaccine injection, many people will experience arm soreness or stiffness in the shoulder. For most people, this pain will only last a day or two, and they can resume their normal lives.

However, others will suffer unusual shoulder pain. They’re unable to move their arms for weeks, forcing them to miss work or school. They may develop long-lasting health effects from shoulder pain and swelling. Although these cases are rare, they have been recognized by medical communities as Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA).

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, keep reading to learn more about SIRVA, common symptoms, SIRVA treatment options, and how you can get compensated for your shoulder injury from vaccine administration.

If you have any questions about SIRVA, call us today to speak with one of our vaccine injury attorneys at (312) 578-9501. You can also fill out the form at the bottom of the page. 

What is SIRVA (AKA Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration), and how does it happen?

SIRVA happens when a vaccine is injected into the shoulder capsule rather than the deltoid muscles in your shoulder. Basically, a shoulder injury occurs when a vaccine is improperly administered.

The vaccine is sometimes given too high on the shoulder or too deeply into the tissue. A shoulder injury related to vaccine administration can also happen when a medical professional uses the wrong needle length.

Vaccines that are improperly administered may inflame and injure nearby tendons, ligaments, or the bursa (a fluid-filled sac in your shoulder). As a result, people with SIRVA experience intense shoulder pain, loss of mobility, and other long-lasting symptoms.

What are the most common symptoms of SIRVA?

SIRVA itself is not one single medical diagnosis. It covers many types of shoulder injuries and symptoms.

Immediately following the vaccination, most people with a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration will experience at least one of the following symptoms. These symptoms often don’t improve with over-the-counter pain medication:

  • Severe shoulder pain. The most telltale symptom of SIRVA is severe pain in the shoulder that begins within 48 hours of injection. Pain can be intermittent or persistent, and often becomes worse when you use the affected arm.
  • Decreased range of motion. If you have a shoulder injury from a vaccine, you will likely lose mobility in your injured arm. Tasks that were once easy to do, such as dressing yourself, may cause intense shoulder pain.
  • Inflammation. SIRVA also causes inflammation in your injured shoulder. Oftentimes, the shoulder joint itself is inflamed, making it difficult to move your arm without causing pain. You may experience swelling, and your shoulder may hurt when you touch it.
  • Arm pain. This SIRVA symptom often comes hand-in-hand with shoulder pain. Arm pain is also a sign that your nerves were damaged from the vaccine administration.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described above, we recommend contacting your doctor immediately to discuss your treatment options. If left untreated, SIRVA injuries can progressively get worse.

For example, you may have a very serious shoulder injury, such as a rotator cuff tear, from the improperly administered vaccine. These shoulder injuries need treatment in order to heal properly.

Here are the most common shoulder injuries you can get from SIRVA:

  • Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (Adhesive Capsulitis). Frozen shoulder causes pain and stiffness in your shoulder. Over time, your shoulder becomes very difficult to move. People often get frozen shoulder syndrome when they’re unable to move their arms for a long time.
  • Shoulder Bursitis. The bursa is the fluid-filled sac that lubricates the shoulder joint. If the vaccine is injected into the bursa, you may have painful inflammation in the shoulder known as bursitis.
  • Shoulder Tendonitis. Vaccines are typically administered in the deltoid muscle. If given too high, the injection can injure the tendons in your shoulder. This improper vaccine administration can cause Shoulder Tendonitis or inflammation of the muscles and bones in your shoulder.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear. This SIRVA injury happens when there is a tear in the tissues connecting the muscle to the bone around the shoulder joint. Oftentimes, people with rotator cuff tears from vaccines also have Shoulder Bursitis or Tendonitis.
  • Nerve Damage. If a vaccine is administered too far to the side or too low on the arm, the injection can damage the axillary and radial nerves. This SIRVA injury results in paralysis and neuropathy for some patients. Watch out for burning or shooting pain during the injection; those symptoms are telltale signs of nerve damage.
  • Impingement Syndrome (Swimmer’s Shoulder). Impingement syndrome happens when an inflamed tendon in your shoulder rubs against your shoulder blade, resulting in pain. Many swimmers get this condition, but it can also happen after a vaccine is injected too high in your shoulder, damaging your tendons.

If you have any of these shoulder injuries, your life is no longer what it used to be. These injuries often require ongoing medical care. You may lose your job or have to file for long-term disability.

We want you to know that you are not alone. There is compensation available to you under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. To learn more, call us today at (312) 578-9501 or at the bottom of this page to speak with one of our vaccine injury lawyers.

Does the flu shot cause SIRVA (especially Frozen Shoulder Syndrome)?

The short answer is yes: The influenza vaccine can cause SIRVA injuries like Frozen Shoulder Syndrome. As we discussed above, a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration is often caused by improper administration of the vaccine.

Any vaccine or injection can cause SIRVA. However, the flu shot is given annually, unlike other vaccines that only require two or three doses to be effective.

For this reason, there are more cases of people getting a shoulder injury from flu vaccines. If you were injured by a flu vaccine, our expert vaccine lawyers can help. Reach out to us for more information.

What are my treatment options for SIRVA?

If you have a shoulder injury from a vaccine, you should consult with your doctor to discuss the best treatment options for you. Below, we’ve listed the most common treatment options often prescribed to SIRVA patients.

  • Rest. Taking a break and resting from your usual activities can help your shoulder injury heal. Stop doing any activities that cause immediate pain and fatigue if possible. If your symptoms don’t resolve, talk to your doctor about other treatment options available to you.
  • Pain medication. SIRVA is typically treated with medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Some SIRVA patients take over-the-counter pain medications, while others have to take prescription relievers to get them through the day.
  • Steroid injections. Your doctor may prescribe steroid injections to reduce the swelling in your shoulder. These injections also preserve joint function and structure.
  • Physical Therapy. Some patients may need physical therapy to regain any loss of motion in the shoulder.
  • Surgery. If no other treatment is effective, you may need surgery to repair the affected ligaments and tendons in the shoulder.

What are the best exercises for SIRVA?

When you have a shoulder injury related to vaccination, it’s best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any treatment. If your pain has persisted for 2-3 weeks, it’s time to book an appointment with your primary care physician. That being said, there are exercises you can do at home to help relieve shoulder pain temporarily. 

Here are some of the most effective at-home exercises for SIRVA injuries: 

  • Pendulum. To do this exercise, lean forward and support yourself against a chair or table with your non-injured arm. Dangle your injured arm straight down and draw small circles in the air. Gradually increase the circumference and reverse the direction sometimes. 
  • Arm across the chest. Hold your injured arm out in front of your body near the waist. Put your other hand behind your injured arm’s elbow. Pull your injured arm across your chest using your hand. Hold in this position for 30-50 seconds and then release.
  • Neck release. Sit up straight. Slowly tilt your chin toward the chest until you can feel the stretch in the back of your neck. Next, lean your head to the right or left to stretch either shoulder. Hold the stretch for a minute. 

Does SIRVA go away?

For some, their SIRVA injury will heal after months of treatment. They don’t have any lasting side effects or shoulder pain. However, many patients experience chronic pain, even after their treatment is complete. They have to take pain medications or receive steroid injections to manage their shoulder injury. Others may have to continue physical therapy so their injury doesn’t regress. 

Can I File a SIRVA lawsuit?

Yes, you may be able to file a lawsuit for your SIRVA injury—but there’s a special court system for vaccine injuries in the United States you may not know about.

If you are suffering from SIRVA, you may be eligible for compensation from the federal government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). This program is managed by the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington, D.C.

The VICP offers an alternative path to a traditional lawsuit. The VICP allows you to pursue compensation for a vaccine injury without having to sue your doctor or the pharmaceutical companies.

How to Get Compensation for a SIRVA Injury

Under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, you can file a petition for compensation for your SIRVA injury. The Program itself offers compensation to people injured by vaccinations listed on the Vaccine Injury Table. All of these vaccines are on the childhood vaccine schedule, including the seasonal flu vaccine and the HPV vaccine.

In 2017, the VICP revised the Table to include Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration as a covered injury for every vaccine listed.

What does this mean? Essentially, you’ll have an easier time receiving compensation for your SIRVA injury from the VICP.  

However, you must file your SIRVA claim within three (3) years of the onset of your SIRVA symptoms. Often, SIRVA symptoms begin within 48 hours of the vaccination.

Compensation is awarded based on the specific facts of your SIRVA injury claim. The Court will examine your medical records and history. If the Court agrees that the vaccine caused your SIRVA injury, it will then award you damages for your injury.

We highly recommend hiring a vaccine injury lawyer like the ones at Shannon Law Group to file your SIRVA claim. It comes at no cost to you because the U.S. Federal Court of Claims pays your lawyer for their attorney’s fees.

Our Vaccine Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Help You Get Compensated for Your SIRVA Injury

If you or someone you love has suffered severe shoulder pain after a vaccine administration, we can help you get justice. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys, or take a moment to fill out our online contact form.

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