SIRVA Injury: Symptoms and Treatment

A shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, or SIRVA, is the most commonly reported type of injury following a vaccine.

If a vaccine is improperly administered, the patient may suffer from shoulder pain, limited range of motion, and other shoulder injuries. In some cases, long-term damage may occur.

A SIRVA is entirely preventable. When a SIRVA occurs, the vaccine is mistakenly injected into the shoulder capsule or the shoulder joint. The needle may hit the tendons, ligaments, or bursae. The bursae are sacs of fluid that protect tendons, bones, and muscles.

Instead, the vaccine should be injected into the deltoid muscle.

If an injection is administered into the shoulder capsule, the patient may suffer from severe shoulder pain and a reduced range of motion because an inflammatory reaction occurs. Some may suffer an overall decrease in their quality of life.

In some instances, the injection is administered too far to the side, hitting the axillary nerve. If the injection is too low, the radial nerve may be struck. If either of these nerves is struck by the needle, the patient will immediately feel a burning sensation.

The signs of SIRVA usually present themselves within 48 hours of vaccination.   Individuals who suffer from SIRVA injuries may be diagnosed with rotator cuff tears, adhesive capsulitis, and bursitis.

Which Vaccines Are Usually Linked to SIRVA?

SIRVA has been reported after tetanus shots, DTaP/TDaP vaccines, MMR/MMRV vaccines, and the influenza vaccine, among others.

The vast majority–approximately 70 percent–of SIRVA incidents are linked to the flu shot. This could be because the influenza vaccination is one of the most commonly administered vaccines.

Medical professionals stress that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risks.

What Are the Symptoms of SIRVA?

Many shoulder injuries may be attributed to a SIRVA. These may include:

  • Ulnar neuropathy, which refers to numbness or a burning sensation in the fingers, hands, or arms
  • Shoulder bursitis, which causes shoulder stiffness or aches
  • Rotator cuff injury, which causes pain deep within the shoulder
  • Adhesive capsulitis (also called frozen shoulder syndrome), which causes pain or stiffness that prevents an individual from moving his or her arm

Other types of adverse events may also occur, depending on the location of the injection.

How is SIRVA Treated?

There are several treatment options for SIRVA, depending on the nature of the injury and the patient’s health history.

Physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and other pain medication may help. In cases of severe pain or other serious symptoms, surgery may be required.

Why Do SIRVA Incidents Occur?

Medical professionals are trained in proper injection techniques.  SIRVA incidents may occur when the vaccine is injected into a part of the shoulder other than the thickest part of the deltoid muscle.

When to Contact an Attorney for a SIRVA Injury

If you believe that you have sustained a SIRVA injury after receiving an injection, you may be entitled to compensation. Through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, claimants submit evidence of an adverse event for review. This system is a no-fault program that compensates claimants so long as they meet certain criteria.

For example, claimants must show that the vaccine caused an injury or condition that resulted in:

  • Hospitalization or surgery;
  • More than six months of symptoms; or
  • Death.

Although it is not legally required for an attorney to file SIRVA injury claims on behalf of injured claimants, it is often a good idea to have an attorney review documents and forms before submitting a claim. Improperly submitted documentation may result in a denial. Experienced vaccine injury attorneys ensure that proper procedures are followed and that appropriate evidence is submitted, strengthening the validity of the claim.

Call Today to Discuss Your Shoulder Injury

If you have suffered shoulder pain or another type of shoulder injury following a vaccine, contact the vaccine injury attorneys at Menzer Law. Our team will carefully review your case to determine what routes of recovery may be available to you. To learn more about our Seattle law firm, contact us online or call 206.903.1818 today.