What Is SIRVA?
Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, or SIRVA, happens when a vaccine is injected too high or too deep in the shoulder. Injecting the vaccine this way can lead to intense and prolonged pain and other shoulder injuries, such as a rotator cuff tear or tendonitis.
Shoulder injections are typically given in the deltoid muscle. When a provider uses a needle that is too long for the patient or does not inject in the correct spot in the shoulder, the needle can hit bone or puncture the fluid-filled sac (called the bursa), which protects the tendons in the shoulder. When this happens, the bursa, tendons, and ligaments can become inflamed. SIRVA comes from a misplaced injection, not the contents of the vaccine.
SIRVA affects the parts of your shoulder that allow you to move your arm comfortably. Usually, it manifests as sudden pain or a decreased range of motion within 48 hours of a vaccine injection, but it shares these symptoms with many other conditions, including nerve damage.
What Vaccines Are Known to Cause Shoulder Injuries?A number of vaccines can cause shoulder injuries. The most common are:
- Influenza (Flu)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal (MPSV4, MCV4)
- Varicella/Chickenpox (VAR)
Conditions That Result From SIRVA
- Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). This causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder, eventually making it very difficult to move.
- Bursitis. This is an inflammation of the bursae, which are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues. Bursitis causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness.
- Rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that holds your arm in the shoulder socket. These tendons can become inflamed and damaged after an injection in the arm. When one or more of these tendons is torn, it causes pain and weakness in the shoulder. Symptoms include arm weakness, difficulty reaching behind the back, and disturbed sleep when lying on the affected shoulder.
- Shoulder impingement. This happens when the space between the bone at the top of your shoulder and the rotator cuff becomes narrowed. It causes pain and difficulty raising your arm to shoulder height.
- Tendonitis. The tendons that form the rotator cuff can become irritated or damaged. Symptoms of tendonitis include mild swelling, pain, and tenderness.
SIRVA conditions must have begun within a specific time frame after a vaccination and occur only in the shoulder where the vaccination was given. For it to be vaccine related, there must also be no other cause for the condition.
If you’re experiencing one of these conditions after receiving a vaccine, contact us for a no obligation free consultation.
How Is SIRVA Diagnosed?
People with symptoms of SIRVA should see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will do a physical examination and may order tests to look for injury or inflammation in your shoulder.
It’s important to tell your doctor that your symptoms began soon after a vaccination, since that may be the key to getting the correct diagnosis.
How Is SIRVA Treated?
The tendons that hold the arm in place in the shoulder joint are called the rotator cuff. These tendons can become inflamed and damaged after an injection in the arm. Symptoms of this injury include:
- Rest. SIRVA injuries involve inflammation, and simply resting the muscle, ligaments and tendons in your shoulder may lead to recovery.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy can help improve your range of motion and muscle strength and speed your healing process.
- Pain medication. This can include ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor may also suggest a prescription medication.
- Steroid injections or oral steroids. If other treatments haven’t helped, your doctor may prescribe a steroid medication to suppress inflammation. Your doctor will assess your condition carefully before prescribing this medication.
- Surgery. If SIRVA has caused a condition that can be helped with surgery, your doctor may recommend a specific procedure as a final option.
The tear must have begun within a specific time frame after a vaccination and occur only in the shoulder where the vaccination was given. For it to be vaccine related, there must also be no other cause for the condition.
What Are Some Ways to Prevent SIRVA?
To help prevent SIRVA, make sure the person vaccinating you is a trained professional. Give that person as much of an unobstructed a view of your shoulder as possible.
SIRVA results from getting a shot in the wrong place, so consider doing more than just rolling up your sleeves. Taking off your entire shirt—or wearing one you can slip your arm out of if that is more comfortable for you—can go a long way.
Can You Receive Compensation for SIRVA?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) includes SIRVA as a covered injury. You may qualify to receive compensation for a SIRVA claim.
The VICP offers three categories of compensation. You could receive compensation for all three depending on your circumstances:
- Out of pocket medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity