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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun

Yale J Biol Med



Shoulder Pain and Injury after COVID-19 Vaccination.


Sahu D
Yale J Biol Med. 2022 Jun; 95(2):217-220.
PMID: 35782477.


Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) is a term given to describe shoulder pain and dysfunction arising within 48 hours after vaccine administration and lasting for more than one week. While SIRVA is most commonly seen after influenza and tetanus vaccines, there have been a few recent case reports describing SIRVA-like symptoms after COVID-19 vaccine administration. Two patients presented to the shoulder surgeon's practice center with complaints of shoulder stiffness and pain following the COVID-19 vaccine. The first patient was a 33-year-old man; he presented within 2 days of onset of the pain and 14 days from the vaccine date. He had a complete restriction of shoulder motion (0° flexion, and no external or internal rotation) at presentation. This patient was treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and rested in a sling for a week. The second patient was a 53-year-old woman; she presented with a 6-week duration of mild restriction of active shoulder motion and shoulder pain. Her magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed the presence of subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis. She was treated with subacromial steroid injection and range of motion shoulder exercises. Both patients recovered a near-normal range of motion recovery within a month, and their pain improved significantly. The main lessons from this case report were: (1) patients presenting with a recent increase in pain and acute loss of shoulder movements after vaccination may be managed conservatively with rest and NSAID medications and (2) in case of a subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis in the MRI, subacromial injection of steroid may provide good pain relief.