Should My Shoulder Hurt After A Flu Shot?

I recently had a patient ask me where a flu shot should be administered. This may seem like an odd question since I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy and not a family physician. However, the reason she asked is because she had received another type of shot 2 weeks prior and her left shoulder had been painful since. She was due to have a flu shot and was concerned that her shoulder would be re-aggravated.

With flu season quickly approaching and because my patient asked me about this, I felt compelled to address an unfortunate situation that has occurred at least 3 times in recent years. I have cared for patients who received a flu shot only to discover shoulder pain within minutes to hours after the injection. Their pain persisted and ultimately resulted in a trip to the orthopedist and a prescription for physical therapy.

Flu shots are typically administered in the meatiest or thickest portion of the deltoid muscle of the upper arm. However, on rare occasions, the person administering...

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