Pinching, sharp pain after blood drawn

by Sally

About two weeks ago I had a routine blood draw.

Now, whenever I straighten my arm or attempt to lift something slightly heavy (i.e. gallon of milk) I get a sharp pinching pain on my inner elbow, to the left of the injection site.

Some of your other posts suggested checking for a pea-shaped lump in the area, but i don't feel anything like that.

Is it possible that the nurse hit a tendon with the needle when drawing my blood? What can I do to lesson the pain and regain mobility? I've been icing and taking Advil regularly.

Thank you


Joshua Answers:

Hi Sally.

It's possible the needle hit a tendon, but incredibly unlikely.

Blood draws happen very shallow. So unless the nurse was stabbing that needle deep into your forearm....

-Probably- your body decided that it was under attack, kicked in a Pain Causing Dynamic which includes firing up a Process of Inflammation.

Needle inserts, pain is felt, nervous system freaks out, muscles tighten up, pain levels increase due to build up of pain enhancing chemical from the inflammation process, etc.

It's not Tendonitis, but that doesn't mean that there's no pain on movement, muscle contraction, etc.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

Were I you I would learn How To Reduce Inflammation, start doing that a bunch, and then get back to me and give me an update.

Also, see this page: Help Identifying Inner Elbow Pain Can't Straighten Arm

Along those lines, I just looked to see when you submitted this.

I imagine that this has resolved by now....definitely not a timely response.

If it had been, I suspect that an appropriate amount of ice dipping would have reduced the pain levels and gotten the nervous system to settle things out.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Apr 09, 2014
Can a corticosteroid injection hit tendon?
by: BB

I have a similar question. I had a steroid injection in my knee 3 weeks ago.

Since then I've had horrible pain when walking, climbing stairs and even getting in bed or in and out the shower. I touch the injection site and get the worst pain on the other side, but its numb when I touch that side.

Could my Dr have hit a tendon? Same thing happen a yr back when I had blood drawn at an emergency room. I told the nurse I had lots of tendons in my right arm but she still drew blood from my right hand. It hurt so bad I screamed.

Now the area is numb as well.

Any suggestions?? Thanks in advance.


Joshua Comments:

Hi BB.

Could have hit a tendon, could have hit a nerve. Depends on where 'in the knee' the needle went.

Could be you're just super sensitive to the 'stress' of needles and/or injection. Some bodies are.

Then again, you could be nutritionally insufficient such that your body can't appropriately respond to the 'stress' (which requires adequate nutrition for a body to deal with any stressor) of a needle/injection.

I have no idea about your specific scenario as I don't know anything about it, I'm just throwing out some options.

Jun 30, 2016
had same exact issue
by: ba tabnabber

Exactly 2 weeks after a blood draw I had the exact same symptoms, sharp pain inner elbow, couldn't lift anything or straighten my arm.

Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. Over the next few days the muscles in my legs and then arms became unexplainably sore, as if I'd run a marathon the day before despite doing nothing.

This continued along with overall weakness, fatigue for almost a week before I felt normal again. I discussed my symptoms with my brother, an anesthesiologist, who thought the blood draw was unrelated.

His guess was some mosquito transmitted virus that affects muscles, possibly west Nile.


Joshua Comments:

Possibly West Nile? That's a mighty random guess.

This might be semantics probably wasn't the blood draw itself (unless you were infected by a dirty needle and your body was fighting it off, which is incredibly unlikely in a hospital setting).

Probably, the loss of blood either:

A. weakened your system, and that set off a chain reaction throwing your body out of whack and it tried to right itself and/or

B. you were fighting something off at the time (happens all the time and we're not aware of it) and the loss of blood allowed the something to take a hold a little more and the body was fighting it off.

Neither of those necessarily explain the arm symptoms....but it's kind of in the same ball park.

My best guess.

The good news is, you're all better now(?).

Jul 01, 2016
all better
by: ba tabnabber

Thanks Joshua, I am fully recovered now (started improving after 4 days and was fully recovered in about a week). What was odd was that they didn't take much blood at the blood draw and my arm didn't hurt at the time or even for two weeks after (though I did have some bruising for a few days)...then out of nowhere... BAM! Terrible pain right at the exact site of where the needle went in.

Unfortunately I'm more needle averse now then I've ever been, which I didn't think possible. And I must admit I'm glad I waited it out and didn't go to another doc for my symptoms. The human body has remarkable abilities to heal itself and the health care industry (here in the US) is far too profitable. Thankfully we have sites like yours that help us reduce the cost of health care by simply sharing information.

Your site was one of the only ones where I found someone describing my situation, so I thank you! It gave me reassurance that I wasn't a complete freak or had contracted some horrible and previously unknown disease. Well maybe I did, but at least it was recoverable.


Joshua Comments:

Well, the body does weird things sometimes....and who knows what was going on there.

And brains are funny too. Sometimes a brain notices a bit of pain (pin prick) and a loss of blood volume (even a litte bit) and goes WAY overboard in response (which can be noticeable immediately, or weeks later).

Some symptom scenarios are obvious. Some are head scratchers where we just smile and heave a sigh of relief when the symptoms go away.

We'll call this one a win!

Sep 06, 2016
Problems after blood draw
by: Anonymous

I had my blood taken 2.5 months ago and it was abnormally painful. After the draw I felt fine and didn't show any swelling or bruising or redness.

Next day I had a tender pain in the back of my elbow. For the next 5 weeks I had a minor ache in my arm where the blood was drawn but kept working my strenuous work.

After these 5 weeks all "hell broke loose"-- my forearm tightened and cramped up. Next day whole arm was on fire and spent the next 3 weeks in a splint. I figured after reading that I had a nerve injury so I thought I just had to lay off the arm.

Pain got a little better but hand swelled up and wrist was hurting. Just had a nerve test done and they say I have slight carpel tunnel syndrome but have NO idea why the rest of my arm aches and feels fatigued. My arm feels like I'm constantly lifting heavy weights. What could this be? Could I have a muscle or tendon injury??


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

The body does weird things sometimes for no reason. But usually there's a reason.

-Probably- you're experiencing a stress response do to being short on magnesium (and other related nutrients).

Stresors of any kind (like pain, like a needle stick, like the mental activity that goes on during such) eats up magnesium.

If you don't have enough magnesium, your body literally can't handle the stress and various bad things can result (from your body not being able to maintain normal operation and/or keep what should be a momentary defensive mechanism momentary).

It sounds like things tightened up, and you were stuck in a downward spiral of increasing tightness and tightness mechanism (pain signals to the brain, inflammation process kicking in, etc).

Tightness and fatigue are symptoms of lack of magnesium.

It could be other (weird, random) things, but this is the most likely scenario.

If you'd been given a vaccination there would be a different conversation. But a blood draw isn't going to injure you (unless it went horribly horribly wrong and you'd have known it went wrong initially).

Potentially if they couldn't find a vein and were poking around, they could have hit a nerve or something, and that would be problematic.

Did they?

Sep 09, 2016
Thank you.
by: Anonymous

Thank you, I actually did just start taking magnesium supplements last week after reading about nerve damage and repair.

I don't know for sure if they hit a nerve but it sure has felt like it. The blood draw was definitely painful and I was tense and nervous to begin with.

She didn't poke me more than once and didn't seem to "fish around" for a vein but it hurt and I felt a ton of pressure. I figured she definitely hit my median nerve, especially when my thumb, index and middle finger blew up weeks later and had some numbness-- but now I'm more confused since I had a nerve test done and it showed NO nerve damage at the injection site (elbow) but some at my wrist showing the carpel tunnel syndrome (which I never had before-- no pain there either).

I had also written you explaining that I've also had tense cramps and some twitching in my right leg (same side of injection). What the heck is going on?? I'm so confused with my body right now. Not sure if I need an MRI....

But then everyone tells me that my body just needs to heal.... Even if it is median nerve damage. I had also had a huge dizzy spell shortly after the blood draw but didn't connect the dots back then... But now I think it was another side effect.

Sounds crazy right? Right now, my hand and wrist is healing but still tender and sore in my arm and elbow area.


Joshua Comments:

Overall, it sounds like your body was tense (low magnesium) and didn't respond well/over reacted with more tenseness (lack of magnesium).

Without enough of the right nutrition, the body can't work right/respond optimally to stressors.

Maybe something worse happened like hit a nerve, but without any injury, the body can go haywire....and then it's a matter of bringing it back inline/online.

Lots of water.
Get your Vit D level to between 60-80ng/ml.
Keep with the magnesium, and more of it.
Good sleep and lots of it.

Oct 21, 2016
feeling of shooting electricity after a blood drawn.
by: Barbara

When the needle went in I experience a shooting electricity down my arm to my thumb.

The next day I was unable to move my arm as my elbow was swollen, red and very painful to the touch.

It has now been 3 days and I still am experiencing the electrical shooting pain to my thumb and elbow still very tender, I can't put any pressure on the area, still swollen and red and warm to the touch.

Should I see a doctor.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Barbara.

You could see a doctor, but there's nothing a doctor can do for you.

And they may not even believe you that your symptoms are from the blood draw.

Having said that, it may be worthwhile to go see a doctor just to get your symptoms and history documented, in case there are any future medical issues/legal issues it would be good to have 'evidence'.

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