Insulin: Reducing the pain of injections

If you are new to insulin therapy, your only previous experience of injections is likely to have been painful. Most people's experience of needles is of a long needle that is inserted into their vein or muscle for a blood test or vaccination. Insulin injections use smaller needles and many people eventually find that their injections are not painful. Your diabetes healthcare team will be able to show you how to inject insulin. Following the tips below will help to make injecting insulin more comfortable.

  • Store the insulin you are currently using at room temperature. Injecting cold insulin can be uncomfortable.
  • Don't use blunt needles and remember to change the needle if you use an insulin pen.
  • Try to rotate your injection sites to avoid fatty lumps developing (lipohypertrophy) that can make injecting more painful and slow down the speed that the insulin is absorbed.
  • Choose a "fleshy" part of your body that has some fatty tissue, such as the thigh, buttock or lower abdomen. This will be less sensitive than a more muscley area.
  • Make sure the needle is turned the correct way around, with the sharp tip facing towards the skin and the eye of the needle facing outwards.
  • You can gauge how painful your area of choice is by gently pressing the needle against the skin.
  • If you find injections painful, you can try numbing the skin with an ice cube before injecting.
  • Pinching the skin with your thumb and index finger will help you to avoid injecting your muscle, which can be more uncomfortable.
  • Inserting the needle quickly will be less painful than slowly. However, you may feel happier to take your time, particularly if you are new to insulin therapy.
  • Speak to your diabetes healthcare team for further advice about how to make your injections more comfortable.

 

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