Why You May Feel Arm Pain After Receiving Any Vaccine
When you receive a vaccine, your body initially thinks its been injured, similar to when you get a cut or scrape. It sends immune system cells to your arm any time your skin is broken to investigate what happened. Once your immune cells realize theres an invader in this case, the vaccine in your arm, they signal your body to relax the blood vessels around the area and send more immune cells to help fight.
This process is called vaccine reactogenicity. It allows your immune system to create antibodies infection-fighting proteins that will help prevent you from getting sick if you ever come into contact with the real virus or bacteria. Part of this process includes producing inflammation. The more inflammation your body creates, the more sore and swollen your arm will be.
When Should I Be Concerned About Post
While some levels of stiffness and pain are to be expected after you get vaccinated, Dr. Jain says that it shouldn’t last for more than 24 to 48 hours. The symptoms might be more intense after the second COVID vaccine injection, he explains, but soreness in and of itself isn’t a red flag. It’s not specific to COVID vaccinations, either â Dr. Jain tells Bustle that your arm is likely to get sore after most vaccine shots.
But again, it’s nothing to worry about if it remains a matter of soreness. Some other post-vaccine symptoms are more worrisome. “If you experience any signs of anaphylaxis, facial swelling, numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes, or intractable nausea and vomiting, you should immediately seek medical help, as these are signs of a serious adverse event,” Dr. Jain advises.
When Is Arm Pain After A Vaccine A Sign Of Something More Serious
For most people, arm pain after a vaccine is generally mild and a quick-passing problem. But there are some times when you should contact your provider. Keep in mind that these reactions are rare and are not necessarily signs you cannot receive future vaccinations.
If the person giving you a shot inserts the needle too high, you can develop shoulder problems, including nerve pain and limited range of motion. When this happens, arm pain will start within two days of your vaccination, continue longer than what is typical for that vaccine, and will not feel better if you take pain relievers. This issue is preventable, needs to be treated by your provider, and should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System .
While true allergies to vaccines are rare, painful rashes after receiving a shot are more common. It is not unusual for these reactions to happen several days to weeks later. This type of side effect is not always a sign of an allergy, but it could be. If you notice a rash or hives where you received a vaccination, you should be seen by your provider.
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Why Does The Vaccine Make Your Arm Hurt
“When you receive a vaccination, your immune system gets activated in order to build a protective response against the viral protein,” says Dr. Sanjeev Jain, M.D., a doctor double-board certified in immunology and internal medicine at Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic. In other words, your body gets a small, safe taste of the virus and gets to work at creating defenses against it â which is great for your overall health, but a bit finicky in your arm for a couple of days.
The reason your arm hurts has to do withyour body’s healing response. “As your immune system is activated, there is a transient release of inflammatory mediators that can lead to symptoms such as soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site or of the adjacent lymph nodes, as well as fever, muscle aches, and headache,” Dr. Jain explains.
What Are The Symptoms
The main signs of SIRVA are serious shoulder pain and less range of motion, meaning trouble with moving your shoulder normally. The symptoms usually show up within 48 hours after you get a vaccine shot in your upper arm. Research also suggests that over-the-counter pain meds donât help the symptoms get better.
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/6what Causes Pain At The Injection Site
Side-effects with a vaccine can show up in a number of ways- mostly in the form of systematic and inflammatory reactions. With most people who do get vaccinated, pain in the arm where you get jabbed, or experiencing soreness, stiffness, difficulty in moving the arm around could be common reactions.
Even so, the numbness and the pain caused vis-a-vis injections could be temporary, the side-effects could throw people off their normal routines and be disturbing, it can be intriguing to wonder what causes it in the first place.
Pain and tenderness at the site of injection are actually one of the first side-effects that kick in when you get the vaccine jab. It also is part of the localized response when you get vaccinated, i.e. the effects which kick in at the exact spot where the jab is given.
The reaction that causes arm soreness is an example of how the body first perceives the vaccine to be. When you do get the shot, the body considers it to be an injury, much like a bleed or a cut and sends immune cells to the arm and relaxes the blood vessels. As a part of the process, the immune cells also cause inflammation, which later helps you protect against the same pathogen if you ever encounter it again. This is what experts call a ‘reactogenicity’ of the vaccine. Some of the arm irritation also comes from the muscle reacting to the small amount of vaccine liquid that was injected into the arm.
How To Treat A Sore Arm After Your Shot
As stated before, if you have a sore arm after your COVID-19 vaccine, it should only last for a few days. But If youre uncomfortable, there are a few things you can do to help:
- Move your arm after your shot. Using your arm and making a point to move it often after youve been vaccinated stimulates blood flow to the area. It can also help reduce soreness, according to Richard Watkins, MD. Dr. Watkins is an infectious disease specialist and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University.
- Try a cool compress. Applying a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area may help reduce soreness, Valdez says. This may bring down the inflammation, much like when you ice your knees after exercise or injury, she says.
- Continue using your arm. It can be tough if youre uncomfortable, but stretching and continuing to use your arm can help minimize or reduce soreness, Watkins says.
The CDC recommends talking to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for arm soreness and other post-vaccination pain. Do not take these medications if you have any condition that would normally prevent you from taking them.
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Q: Why Does My Arm Hurt After Taking The Vaccine And Why Are Side Effects Worse After The Second Dose
A: Professor Ooi Eng Eong from the Duke-NUS Medical School said the commonly reported side effects of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines are largely caused by the body’s immune response. These are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache and body aches.
“For instance, the pain at the injection site is caused not only by the insertion of a hypodermic needle, but also by immune cells infiltrating the injection site to ‘pick up’ the vaccine,” he said.
“Moreover, activated immune cells would ‘talk’ to other immune cells to coordinate their response through chemicals, which causes the… side effects.”
This explains why more people experience side effects after the second dose than the first, as the first jab primes the immune system to the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein. So the immune response to the second dose is likely to be more robust than the first, said Prof Ooi.
Dr Tseng Hsien Cho, physician lead at Raffles Medical Group, said the immune system has two layers of response – the innate immune response followed by the adaptive immune response.
“The innate immune response is activated as soon as our body detects any foreign material, from a speck of dust to a virus. The goal is to identify and eliminate the foreign substance with specialised white blood cells known as neutrophils and macrophages,” he added.
This form of inflammatory response explains the aches and pains after receiving the first jab, said Dr Tseng, and this usually lasts for only a few hours or days.
Why Does Your Arm Hurt After A Flu Shot Here’s How Experts Explain It
It’s not only because someone just jabbed it with a needle.
Getting your annual flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting yourself and your loved ones against an unavoidable flu season. For the most part, that flu shot comes with only minor side effectsfatigue, headache or muscle aches, a mild feverand they’re much more manageable than getting the flu itself.
Another side effect from the flu vaccinearguably the most common oneis pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. On the surface, it makes sense: Of course you’ll have arm pain if you get a flu shot in your arm. But is your arm really supposed to be that sore after a tiny needle delivers the vaccine?
Turns out, there’s a little more to that localized arm pain, according to experts. Here’s why it tends to happen, and what you can do to lessen the discomfort, both before and after the jab.
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How Is It Diagnosed
Talk to your doctor if you have bad pain or trouble moving your shoulder after you get vaccinated in the upper arm.
Theyâll ask you about your symptoms, and they may do a physical exam. They might do tests to rule out other conditions that could bring on similar symptoms, like an infection or a rheumatic disease like arthritis.
They may also recommend imaging tests like:
- Ultrasound. This uses sound waves to take a picture inside your body.
- MRI. This uses a magnet and radio waves to see inside your body.
They doctor might diagnose you with SIRVA if:
- Your shoulder felt fine before the vaccine shot.
- Your symptoms started within a certain number of hours of days afterward.
- The symptoms are only in the arm and shoulder area where you got jabbed.
- Tests donât spot signs of another health problem that would explain the symptoms.
Does This Affect My Preventive Care Plan
The most important thing, Dr. Dean says, is that patients maintain their preventive care plan for breast cancer, especially mammogram screenings.
The Society of Breast Imaging recommends scheduling your mammogram either before your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or about four to six weeks following your second dose, if possible. If thats not possible, though, its important to keep both your scheduled screening and your vaccine appointment.
Well work with you to explain whats going on, what we see and what might be a side effect, Dr. Dean adds. And if theres potential overlap, you can schedule a short-term follow-up screening for a few weeks later just to be safe.
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Sore Arm After Covid Vaccine Is Good Sign
Time & Date
Thursday, February 4, 2021
If you received your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and experienced a sore arm and perhaps some fever, well, good for you.
Thats typically a good sign, said Fred Campbell, MD, an internal medicine physician and associate professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio. In general, a good local reaction is consistent with the bodys defense against that particular vaccine, which means the development of antibodies.
But, he quickly added, everyone is different. If you dont have a sore arm, that doesnt mean the vaccine is not working, its just that if you do its likely youre getting a good response.
Mild symptoms can begin immediately after getting the shot or within a few minutes or hours and can last a day or so, but almost never for more than 36 hours, Dr. Campbell said.
To relieve pain or soreness at the injection site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends applying a cool, wet washcloth and exercising the arm. Drink plenty of fluids if you experience fever.
Another concern, Dr. Campbell added, is the time between the first and second doses. For the Pfizer vaccine, its recommended that the second dose be administered 21 days after the first. For Moderna, its 28 days.
But, he noted, those days are not set in stone.
Itching To Massage Your Sore Arm After Covid
The activity pertaining to massaging of the arm post-Covid vaccination has been a point of debate ever since its rollout earlier this year. Some experts believe that besides avoiding the use of excessive painkillers, those who have been vaccinated should avoid rubbing the injection site too much, and as a measure, avoid putting excess pressure on the area too.
Pain at the injection site is the most common side effect of vaccination but experts say massaging the area may do more harm than good. Heres why
What Causes Soreness at Injection Site?
One of the common most side effects of vaccination, pain at the site is considered to be a localized reaction to the vaccine injection. The reaction that causes arm soreness is an example of how the body first perceives the vaccine to be. When one gets the covid shot, the body considers it to be an injury, like a bleed or a cut and sends immune cells to the arm and relaxes the blood vessels. The immune cells also cause inflammation, which later helps you protect against the same pathogen in future. This is what experts call a reactogenicity of the vaccine. Some of the arm irritation also comes from the muscle reacting to the small amount of vaccine liquid that was injected into the arm.
The soreness and redness, which can also come up in the form of extreme Covid arm can last for several days and make it difficult for a person to move the upper arm, where the vaccine has been injected.
Can Massaging Before Being Inoculated Help?
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When Should I Seek Help For Injection
Any injection site that continues to be problematic after 48 hours should be seen by your doctor immediately. Other symptoms that may warrant medical care:
- High fever following a vaccination
- Signs of an allergic reaction, which can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness.
Concerned about pain, swelling, or soreness after your vaccine? Find a UPMC Urgent Care location near you.
What Serious Side Effects Mean I Should Call My Doctor
The flu vaccine will not give you the flu. However, some people do experience side effects. While redness, swelling, muscle aches and sometimes low-grade fevers are typical side effects after receiving an influenza vaccination, there can be some rare and serious side effects including difficulty breathing and swelling around the eyes or lips. If you are experiencing dizziness, a racing heart or a high fever seek medical attention right away.
“If you develop full body hives, you are having an allergic reaction to the vaccine,” says Dr. Mora. The most common allergic reaction is found in people allergic to eggs. This is because egg proteins are one of the products in the flu vaccine. However, if you have an egg allergy, you can still get the flu shot. Talk to your doctor about the best way to get vaccinated.
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When Covid Arm Occurs
And, Dr. Little notes that of her patients, at least half of the people who had COVID vaccine arm to the first vaccine dose get it again the second time, “but the second COVID vaccine arm reaction usually occurs sooner than the first reaction and lasts a shorter period of time,” she says.”Importantly, this reaction is not a sign of a worrisome allergy and it is not a reason to not get your second vaccine dose,” she reminds.
How To Treat A Sore Arm After Vaccination
Although a sore arm after COVID shots is temporary, there are a few things you can do at home to help treat a sore arm after your vaccine:
- Use a cold compress on the injection site
- Move your arm around frequently throughout the day
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil and Tylenol if approved by your provider
- Use antihistamines such as Benadryl if you experience itchiness
Unless you have a health condition that prevents you from taking certain OTC pain relievers, such as a bleeding condition or liver or kidney problems, you may find relief from arm soreness as well as certain other vaccine side effects such as headache or fatigue.
However, you want to avoid taking OTC pain medications before your vaccine in anticipation of side effects. While it may decrease your arm soreness, the local inflammation is beneficial to the development of a vigorous immune response and anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce this beneficial response, Dr. Anderson explains.
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A More Surprising Reaction
Soon after the Moderna vaccine was approved in December, allergist and researcher Kimberly Blumenthal began receiving photographs of arms from colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The photos showed large red splotches around patients injection sites. Some people had a second rash below the first. Some had red marks shaped like ringed targets. Some rashes appeared on elbows and hands.
After accumulating a dozen images, Blumenthal wrote a letter for the New England Journal of Medicine with the goal of alerting physiciansand reassuring themabout the potential for delayed reactions to the vaccine. Some doctors were prescribing antibiotics for suspected infections, but the pattern she saw suggested that antibiotics were not necessary.
Unlike the rare and dangerous anaphylactic reaction that can happen immediately after injection, delayed rashes dont usually require treatment, Blumenthal says. In a biopsy of one patient, she and colleagues found a variety of T cells, suggesting a type of hypersensitivity. Delayed rashes are known to show up occasionally after other vaccines too, she adds, and they can be a sign of hypersensitivity or a normal part of the immune response. Researchers don’t yet know which is happening with the Moderna vaccine. In this case, they may appear especially common because so many people are getting vaccinated at once.