Itching to Massage Your Sore Arm After Covid-19 Shot? Here's Why That May Not be Such a Great Idea

·3-min read

The activity pertaining to massaging of the arm post-Covid vaccination has been a point of debate ever since its rollout earlier this year. Some experts believe that besides avoiding the use of excessive painkillers, those who have been vaccinated should avoid rubbing the injection site too much, and as a measure, avoid putting excess pressure on the area too.

Pain at the injection site is the most common side effect of vaccination but experts say massaging the area may do more harm than good. Here’s why

What Causes Soreness at Injection Site?

One of the common most side effects of vaccination, pain at the site is considered to be a localized reaction to the vaccine injection. The reaction that causes arm soreness is an example of how the body first perceives the vaccine to be. When one gets the covid shot, the body considers it to be an injury, like a bleed or a cut and sends immune cells to the arm and relaxes the blood vessels. The immune cells also cause inflammation, which later helps you protect against the same pathogen in future. This is what experts call a ‘reactogenicity’ of the vaccine. Some of the arm irritation also comes from the muscle reacting to the small amount of vaccine liquid that was injected into the arm.

The soreness and redness, which can also come up in the form of extreme ‘Covid arm’ can last for several days and make it difficult for a person to move the upper arm, where the vaccine has been injected.

Rubbing the Injected Site Might Cause Irritation?

Experts are of the opinion that massaging the injected part of the arm may seem to give immediate relief from inflammation and pain but in the long run may prove to be harmful. Swiftly rubbing at the particular point of injection, too, may be bad contended experts.

The primary reason for this is because of the manner in which the vaccines are injected, i.e. through an intramuscular route. Experts say, rubbing, pinching or massaging the injection site may interfere with the effectiveness of the vaccine as it may cause the drug to back up through the subcutaneous tissue present in the deepest layer of your skin. Vaccinators also suggest that rubbing or massaging should be avoided immediately after, or hours after vaccination, when it is expected that the vaccine drug reaches its peak levels and thus avoid counter absorption.

Can Massaging Before Being Inoculated Help?

Massaging the arms before injecting the vaccine is a widely followed clinical practice worldwide, which helps soften and relax muscles in the forearm and deliver a vaccine more effectively. However, some studies have also found that such a practice could delay the absorption of certain kinds of vaccines, but may not be clinically significant.

What Are the Other Ways to Counter the Pain?

To relieve oneself of the pain, experts have advised many ways to besides massaging the injected the arm. One can give apply certain home remedies and natural treatments like ice packs, warm compress, soothing baths in Epsom saltwater on the injected site or gently exercise the arm where you have been injected to get relief quicker.

Certain pain-relieving medications may be considered safe to be had as well. However their use should be minimal, and only on the advice of the doctor. Experts however also do recommend that people who are sensitive to pain or may not like to endure the pain too much following vaccination get the shot in their non-dominant arm.

Is it Recommended with Other Vaccines?

As most of the vaccine injections are intramuscular ones, experts recommend against massaging the arm as a big safety precaution with vaccines even other than Covid.

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