COVID-19 Vaccine Arm Soreness

Posted on February 17, 2021 by

COVID-19 Vaccine Arm Soreness

By Dr. Michael Nula, Doctor of Physical Therapy/Founder of Elite Physical Therapy       

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine schedule is rolling along, some people have expressed that their arm is sore for a few days after receiving the vaccine. Although this is a typical response, there are things that you can do to alleviate it.

According to WebMD, vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking it has a virus and mounting a defense against it. This defense is a chemical response that occurs inside of the body and creates inflammation to attract white blood cells—that fight infections—and boost the body’s defense system. This is a good thing. However, that may cause arm soreness, fever, headache, muscle aches or other temporary symptoms of inflammation that can be part of that reaction.

Some things that can be done to feel better include drink more water (8 cups per day), get enough sleep (6-8 hours), apply an ice pack to the sore arm for 10 minutes 1-2 times per day, and perform some regular movement and exercise activity.

The following are some simple stretches and movement activities to perform 3 times per day until the soreness subsides. Remember, keep moving and stay healthy!


PECTORALIS CORNER STRETCH: While standing at a corner of a wall, place your arms on the walls with elbows bent so that your upper arms are horizontal, and your forearms are directed upwards as shown. Take one step forward towards the corner. Bend your front knee until a stretch is felt along the front of your chest and/or shoulders. Your arms should be pointed downward towards the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.


SHOULDER ABDUCTION: Move both arms out to the side and upwards. Then return to the starting position and repeat 10 repetitions. Use controlled smooth movements.



INTERNAL ROTATION TOWEL STRETCH: Gently pull up your affected arm behind your back with the assist of a towel. Hold for 30 seconds.





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