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Flu shots and delayed arm pain
November 29th, 2012


It is that time of year when many are receiving flu shots. Most have arm ache for a few days that rapidly subsides. For some, after several weeks, severe arm and shoulder pain may develop . This is known as Acute Brachiual Neuritis or Parsonage-Turner syndrome. It is a puzzling problem in that the muscles involving the rotator cuff may become impaired with significant weakness after a period of several weeks of severe pain. The process may be as a result of viral damage to the nerves of the brachial plexus. Fortunately it is a self limited disorder with no sequelae, but certainly poses significant consternation when it is ongoing. The treatment is rest and oral steroids in severe cases. Physical therapy may be of some benefit if weakness becomes a factor.

The one condition that may mimic this is a cervical disc herniation with arm pain. MRI and EMG may be used to differentiate the conditions.
 So if you get pain that is delayed weeks or even a few months after a flu shot, see your doc so he can identify the problem AND prescribe the correct form of treatment.

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