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Pain After Shot to the Shoulder

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

A shot to the shoulder can lead people to complain of sharp pain when lifting their arm. This specific pain often hurts less at the outset of lifting the arm but increases along the outside of their shoulder. The intensity then seems to decrease again as the elbow becomes level with the shoulder.

This movement-related pain may be broad across the center of the shoulder. Or, it may focus on the lower attachment alongside the biceps and triceps.

This pattern typically appears on the side of the shoulder, even if the shot/trauma is on the front of the deltoid. This pain is created by a trigger point pattern, not nerve patterns. That means the area of pain or referral doesn’t follow the nerve patterns that you would expect. Because of that, you can release the trigger point and get relief, even though the area may continue to be a bit swollen from the vaccine. Read about how to do that in the self-care post.

An Unusual Pattern.

These patterns are not common. Most people don’t experience them except after a vaccination in the shoulder. Not that they cannot occur in other instances; see those listed below.

Even more unusual would be that the shot or trauma is to the back of the shoulder. Specifically, this happens when the trauma occurs to the fleshy part of the back of the shoulder.

There are many patterns in the back of the shoulder, and this one is the least likely. If you have pain there, it is not likely that this is your pattern. Unless you recently had a vaccination shot or sharp blow to the back of the shoulder. Take a look at this list of shoulder pain patterns.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

The trigger point for this pain pattern is almost always activated by trauma. Of these, the most common are:

  • Vaccine or other medical injection
  • Sports, like lacrosse or rugby, that involve blows to an unprotected shoulder
  • Falls, motor vehicle accidents, and other situations resulting in blunt force to the shoulder.

Unusual though it is, I am seeing a lot more of this in my practice at the moment as patients and friends scramble for Covid-19 vaccinations.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

The deltoid is key in the prevention of dislocation of the humeral head. Read more in this post about the anatomy of the deltoid muscle.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

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Featured Post

Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?

This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.