Vaccines allow parents to protect their children from unpleasant or even deadly viruses and infections. However, these vaccines also carry risks, and some children may suffer severe adverse reactions. One of these is the onset of brachial neuritis, a condition that causes severe shoulder pain and nerve injury in the weeks following vaccination.
What Is Brachial Neuritis?
Brachial neuritis (also called brachial neuropathy, brachial plexopathy, and Parsonage Turner Syndrome) affects approximately 1.5 people per 100,000 in the United States. The condition is caused by swelling and inflammation of the nerve fibers that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, through the arm, and down into the fingers. Like Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), brachial neuritis is a neurological condition, and can be caused by viral infections or traumatic injury to the network or nerves in the head, neck, and shoulders.
The most common symptom of brachial neuritis is severe pain or a burning sensation in the shoulder and upper arm. As the weeks progress, the pain subsides, but is replaced by muscle weakness or numbness in the arm, shoulder, or hands. This muscle weakness is usually temporary, but in some cases can last indefinitely.
Can I Get Compensation for Vaccine-Related Brachial Neuritis?
You and your child could be eligible for benefits through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), which offers payments to victims and families who have suffered a reaction to immunizations. However, there are many different factors used to determine eligibility for compensation, including:
- Symptoms. In most cases, patients with brachial neuritis suffer extreme pain that is made worse with movements of the shoulder. Patients may need prescription medications to cope with the intense pain and may have difficulty carrying or holding objects in the affected arm as muscle atrophy sets in.
- Diagnosis. Brachial neuritis is difficult to detect and is often misdiagnosed at first. A doctor may suspect a fracture and order an x-ray on a patient with brachial neuritis symptoms, only to discover the x-ray is clear. The neurological injury is generally diagnosed using a combination of a physical exam and an electromyogram (EMG).
- Treatment. Brachial neuritis can worsen or develop into “frozen shoulder” (adhesive capsulitis) if the patient does not continue to use the arm. The most common treatments for brachial neuritis include pain relievers, steroids, and physical therapy exercises.
- Prognosis. Patients who are treated quickly after symptoms are detected usually suffer few long-term symptoms. The patient may suffer varying degrees of pain and a loss of sensation in the arm for up to a year. Generally, these effects are not permanent.
- Eligible vaccinations. In the majority of documented cases of brachial neuritis, the patient suffered either a viral illness or vaccination within days or weeks before the first symptoms appeared. The NVICP specifically lists brachial neuritis as a compensable effect of the tetanus vaccine, which can be given alone or in a combination with other immunizations (most commonly the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine). Other immunizations, such as the hepatitis B vaccine and the influenza vaccine, may also trigger brachial neuritis.
The most beneficial aspect of the NVICP is that it allows patients and families to get compensation for medical bills and lost income without the need to file an injury lawsuit. The victim’s family can submit a claim to NVICP that provides medical evidence of vaccination and the ensuing symptoms. If the claim is approved, parents can get payment for their losses, but these benefits are subject to certain limits.
If your child has suffered to a significant degree or will be permanently affected by a side effect of immunization, your only recourse may be to pursue a vaccine injury case in court. We help patients nationwide get justice and compensation for losses and unnecessary suffering due to vaccine reactions. No matter where you are, we can help you get the recognition and damages you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to tell us your story and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.