Immunizations are important for preventing various infectious illnesses. Even if you understand their importance, though, they can be a little uncomfortable. The needle prick is one thing; it's over in an instant. The soreness that arises afterwards, though, is another story. It can linger for days or weeks. Here's a closer look at why this soreness happens and some things you can do to help manage it.

Why does your arm get sore after an immunization?

First, understand that stiffness, soreness, and even some redness at the injection site are completely normal after a vaccine. This does not mean anything is wrong with you or that the vaccine was unsafe or harmful. These symptoms are more common with some vaccines, like tetanus and pertussis, than with others, like the flu. However, they can and do occur with any vaccine.

The soreness arises for two primary reasons. First, it's important to understand that your muscle was pierced in order for the vaccine to be given. Your body has to heal that "injury," and that process will result in some soreness and redness. Second, the symptoms you are experiencing are due to a normal immune reaction to the vaccine. Your body has detected the inactivated pathogens that were introduced to your body via the vaccine, and the discomfort, redness, and swelling are a result of the immune system battling those pathogens and creating antibodies.

How can you reduce vaccine soreness?

The first step towards reducing soreness is to stay relaxed when you are actually getting the injection. If your muscle is relaxed, less damage will be done as the needle is inserted. 

After the injection, you can hold a warm compress against the area. This will help increase circulation, which will not only help the area heal faster but will also encourage the vaccine contents to dissipate faster. Your immune response will be less localized, so you should get less soreness.

You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever for a few days after your injection. Take the dose recommended on the bottle and no more. This will not only directly reduce pain, but some medications can also reduce swelling. Ibuprofen and naproxen are both good choices.

Some soreness after a vaccine is completely normal and is not something to be concerned about. If anything, it is a sign that the vaccine is doing its job. Follow the tips above to minimize the discomfort and go about your daily life.

To learn more about immunizations, contact a doctor.