Tiktokkers have developed a “hack” to help alleviate aching arms after the COVID-19 vaccination. Some experts are skeptical whether it’s likely to ease this mild side effect, but others argue there might be an element of truth to it. Either way, it’s a largely harmless trend and could be a chirpy way to encourage young people to go out and get the vaccine.
The “hack” involves rotating the arm at speed like a windmill, preferably (but not necessarily) while enjoying the song “Please Don't Go” by Mike Posner. The idea is this motion will soothe the pain in your aching arm the following day after your vaccine.
“This sh*t better work so my arm doesn’t hurt tomorrow,” one user posted.
One of the most common side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine is having a painful, heavy feeling, or tender arm at the site. It can be a little uncomfortable, but generally nothing too much of a worry. The reason behind this sensation is simply inflammation caused by the puncture wound and your immune response to the vaccine.
But will windmilling your arm to a heavily produced pop tune actually help this discomfort? Experts are split on the matter and there's not much direct evidence to back up the claim, but it probably won't hurt anyone.
“It actually does make sense to me as an infectious disease doctor,” Dr Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, told SFGATE. “Basically, what they’re doing… is increasing the blood supply to the arm that’s vaccinated.”
Others were more skeptical of the trend but agreed it was fundamentally a harmless bit of fun.
“I doubt it is harmful – or helpful beyond any placebo effect, which could be substantial,” Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and an honorary consultant at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children 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,” said Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health, and head of the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College London, also speaking to the Guardian.
Needless to say, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't actively recommend you spin your arms around after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, although they do say using and exercising the arm can help. They also advise people to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. For more advice on potential side effects from the vaccine, check out their website.