This post is by Mary Lynch – see Credentials in Cause and Effect. A neuropathic arm sounds like something terrible from an Edgar Allan Poe horror story.
Anette Diamond (name changed) is a 66 year-old woman. She has approved this post.
She had been living with chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia for several years when she was referred to me. She was very motivated in pursuing active strategies for pain management suggested by the team at the pain clinic and had made good progress in living with her pain.
I saw her for a routine follow-up appointment in September 2021. At that time she presented as very distressed and her first request of me was “Doctor please tell me I don’t have to have another one of those vaccines”.
Anette and I had never discussed the vaccines. She was referring to the Moderna vaccine, which she had received in August 2021.
She described severe pain in her vaccinated arm along with a widespread rash, which developed shortly after the injection. These were new symptoms that had not previously been an issue for her. She had lost lost function in the previously fully functional arm and could not move it without experiencing severe pain. On examination her range of motion at the shoulder was quite restricted, and she exhibited the sensory findings one would expect for neuropathic pain.
I am a psychiatrist and have worked in the field of pain management for over thirty years. In September of 2012, I was granted Founder status in Pain Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Canada, meaning that I have been recognized as a Fellow who has been instrumental in the creation of a new discipline approved by the Royal College. I have seen thousands of patients with chronic pain and thousands with mental health disorders.
I made a diagnosis of post vaccine neuropathic pain in Anette’s vaccinated arm. There was no evidence that this was caused by a psychiatric disorder and she had not reported these symptoms prior to the vaccine. I contacted her family doctor suggesting Anette be supported for a medical exemption from having a second vaccination until she had fully recovered, at which point we could reassess the situation.
Her family physician agreed and completed an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) report form, supporting a medical exemption until December when I was scheduled to see her again for follow-up.
Anette contacted me several weeks later indicating that she had been advised that she should go ahead and have the second vaccination. She was very upset and anxious about this. I contacted her family doctor again who provided me with a copy of correspondence he had received from the Physician Lead with AEFI Management, Provincial Health and Wellness.
In this correspondence dated October 15, 2021, this public health doctor stated:
“I recommend that she is medically safe to receive a second dose. Post vaccine neuralgia in the face of pre-existing complex chronic pain and depressive illness is difficult to predict. I cannot tell her whether this will happen again, but the response is not specific to COVID vaccine, and could be caused by any kind of IM injection. She has several options-she can take the second dose in her opposite shoulder, or in her thigh or gluteal region if she prefers”
I saw Anette for follow-up in December 2021. She continued to experience severe pain in the vaccinated arm and could barely move it. I diagnosed continued neuropathic pain dating back to the vaccination and advised her not to have another vaccine as there was a significant risk she would experience a similar reaction to a similar vaccine.
In all of my years of practice I have never seen a patient present with regional neuropathic pain that started after a vaccination. I was concerned about her losing the use of another limb if she were to receive another.
During the Summer and Fall of 2021, I had several other patients who reported adverse events following the Covid vaccine and yet, as of when I saw each of them they indicated that an adverse event form had not been completed. I completed AEFIs on 3 and contacted their family doctors and in one case the rheumatologist to ask them if they would be completing an AEFI. After discussion they agreed to do so. See Table below.
On December 8, 2021, I contacted the Physician Lead for AEFI Management who had advised Anette to have a second dose and gave her my opinion.
While I had this doctor on the phone I asked a few questions. My understanding previously was that adverse events following receipt of the vaccine should be reported, regardless of attribution, so that appropriate signals could be picked up by Health Canada regarding vaccine safety.
She said that it was “not regardless of attribution”, that they do make a judgement at the provincial level and that “anything serious” is reported to Health Canada. I asked if there had been any serious adverse events that had been reported and the physician said yes and mentioned:
“we knew going into this that the vaccines might exacerbate inflammation and autoimmune illnesses”
I asked if there had been others and how these were being addressed. She listed acute renal failure, hepatitis and MS and indicated that a public health nurse would be the first contact and that there were physicians from several specialties who had been identified to help, these included infectious disease, immunology and allergy, neurology and others.
My understanding at the end of the phone call was that my patient was not going to be pressured to have another vaccine.
Anette’s post vaccine neuropathic arm pain persists to this date, nine months later. It has continued to be extremely distressing to her.
|Problem||Vaccine||Action||Reported to AEFI|
|Exacerbation of follicular eczema||Pfizer||Referred to Dermatologist who said steroids needed and perhaps light therapy||Yes|
|MS Exacerbation and new painful joints||Pfizer||MS Clinic said Vaccine can't worsen MS||Yes after talking to Family Doctor|
|SAPHO Exacerbation - an inflammatory disorder of bone, joints and skin||Pfizer||Patient much worse||Rheumatologist agreed to submit AEFI form|
|Psoriasis Exacerbation with new onset multi joint pain in Patient living with HIV for decades||mRNA||After 30 years doing well, I have never been so sick||Family doctor reported to AEFI|
Temporary hearing and sight loss, facial paralysis and cognitive problems
|Pfizer||Rheumatologist started methotrexate and prednisone - no improvment after 6 months||ML completed report to AEFI - Public Health attributed this to prior illness.|
All patients were 50-70 years old. All were seen in Summer/Fall of 2021.
MS: multiple sclerosis
SAPHO: A chronic inflammatory disorder of bone, joint, skin characterized by synovitis, osteitis, hyperostosis, enthesitis with pain, swelling, and tenderness and skin acne and pustulosis
You’d have to wonder if any of the public health doctors who have been denying any possible links to vaccines, and denying clearly indicated exemptions, will, like the dying Cardinal Wolsey (in his Orson Welles Man for All Seasons incarnation), wonder if they had served people half so well as they served their public health masters, whether they would have ended up dying so isolated and guilt-ridden.
Will they find like Edgar Allan Poe that: