Why Does My Arm Hurt After a Flu Shot?

Posted on September 25th, 2019 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

Getting a shot isn’t the most enjoyable experience, but we expect to feel a bit of pain each time we get a flu shot. If you experience pain in your shoulder after you receive the flu vaccine, you may wonder if something is wrong. We’ve got the answers here for you:

Is the Flu Shot Safe?

Yes, it is safe to get a flu shot; you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Most patients experience little to no pain or reaction after a flu shot. At most, you may experience some redness, swelling, or pain in the hours following. However, what if the pain doesn’t go away?

Soreness After a Flu Shot

While we admit that a little bit of pain is better than the flu, we also know that pain in your shoulder after a flu shot can be alarming to some. When you receive a flu shot, antigens are being injected into your body. These antigens serve as a signal to our body to start producing antibodies that aid in protecting us from infection, a signal received from the ‘dead’ virus strains in the vaccine. 

Your body, therefore, detects the virus as a threat and begins to fight it, even though the virus in the vaccine cannot hurt you. The soreness in your arm is part of this signal in response to the flu vaccination.

Will My Pain Go Away?

 Soreness after receiving the flu shot can last for up to 1-2 days after receiving the vaccine. If you repeatedly experience soreness after the flu vaccine, you can take ibuprofen 2 hours prior to the vaccine. You can also ice your arm to reduce redness and swelling at the injection site.

Even if you received the flu shot last year, you should still protect yourself with a new vaccination this year. We hope you have a healthy fall season! If you need to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists, contact us today.