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TikTok ‘hack’ to prevent sore arm after vaccine not based on scientific evidence, says doctor

·2-min read
 (TikTok/@reaganelisee, @cicxo)
(TikTok/@reaganelisee, @cicxo)

A viral TikTokhack” that supposedly prevents your arm from becoming sore after having a vaccine has been debunked by doctors.

The hack involves people swinging their jabbed arm like a windmill and is rumoured to stop your arm aching afterwards - a common side-effect of the Covid-19 vaccination.

Multiple TikTok users have posted videos of themselves swinging their arms to try and avoid an arm ache.

However, the hack, which has gone viral on the social media site, is not actually based on scientific fact, according to experts.

Dr Jenna Macciochi, Lecturer in Immunology at the University of Sussex told The Independent: “I cannot say whether it would prevent a sore arm as there are no studies to my knowledge looking at this so we don't know if there is actual evidence its effective and for how long we need to move our arm.

“Based on my knowledge I couldn't imagine that it would work. But, like any inflamed tissue, movement can support blood and lymph flow which helps remove the inflammation.”

Spokespeople for vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson told The Independent there is too little scientific evidence to be able to comment.

Arm soreness in the injected arm is a common side-effect of the Covid-19 vaccine. Macchiochi explained that it is due to both the actual injection and the immune response the vaccine mounts.

She explained: “The COVID-19 vaccine is an intramuscular injection, meaning it’s injected into the muscle.

“It’s recommended that it be injected into the deltoid muscle in the arm, the large muscle that gives the shoulder its range of motion.

“The vaccine can trigger inflammation at the site of the injection, it’s like the start of an immune battlefield, there is also a teeny tiny injury at the site - this can cause the sore arm.”

Any arm pain should resolve itself within 48 hours. If it is significantly impairing your ability to go about your daily life, you can take paracetamol to alleviate the pain as a last resort, as Macciochi explains: “Painkillers can negatively affect the body ability to mount an immune response to the vaccine.”

Whether or not the viral hack has any effect is not as important as raising awareness among young people about getting the vaccination, says Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health, and head of the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College London.

The unexpected upside of the viral nature of TikTok is that people see others getting their vaccine and it prompts them to get theirs.

Majeed told The Guardian: “If it raises awareness of the jab and makes it seem like a joyful, playful thing, then that’s a very good outcome to the dance.”

In the UK, the latest data shows 43,127,763 people have received their first Covid vaccination dose and 31,449,915 have had two doses.

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