7 Tips to Reduce the Pain of Injections
Lisa Emrich | March 28, 2012 March 16, 2018
Reviewed by Amit M. Shelat, DO, MPA, FACP on Aug 26, 2017
Several of the medications used to treat multiple sclerosis are injectable drugs. The requirements for storage and administration differ for each drug, but here are some universal tips that will help reduce the pain of the injections. Please note that if you have questions or difficulties with a specific drug, call the drug company’s helpline or ask your own MS nurse for help.
Room temperature medication
Medications which must be kept in the refrigerator for storage are often much less painful upon injection when at room temperature. Before injecting, remove one pre-filled syringe from the refrigerator and leave the syringe out for at least 30 minutes before using. Or alternatively, while still in the wrapper, hold it in your armpit to bring it to body temperature.
Warm skin is soft.
Cold skin can be hard. Inject after a warm shower when the skin is soft and supple. Or apply a warm compress to the injection site for 5 minutes before injecting. Take caution in any area where sensation of temperature is impaired.
Alcohol or no alcohol?
Wet alcohol on the skin can burn during injections. If you use an alcohol swab to clean the skin, let it dry before injecting to avoid the sting. Then after the injection, quickly apply a cotton ball to prevent medication from leaking and irritating the surrounding skin.
Set auto-injector depth.
Every body is different. Depending upon how much extra cushion (i.e., fat), or lack there of you have, set your auto-injector depth accordingly. Deeper is usually better, but not so deep as to risk hitting a muscle - OUCH!! Adjust the depth somewhat for each injection site location. More fat, greater depth, higher number. Less fat, less deep, lower number.
Rotate, rotate, rotate!
Help keep your skin healthy! Rotate injection sites, moving between different areas of the arms, legs, abdomen, buttocks, or other approved areas. Do not inject in the same place twice in a row, and be sure to wait at least seven days before using a particular spot again.
Post-injection, gently massage the area. For Rebif, Avonex, or Betaseron, you may do this immediately. For Copaxone, it is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before massaging any lumps that develop.
No-drip needle option
If you must remove a cap from the syringe before loading it into an auto-injector, twist the plunger first to loosen it up and reduce the risk of medication dripping from the tip of the needle when you do remove the protective cap. Do not touch the trigger until you are ready to inject!
Always ask for help
Anytime you have difficulties with injections, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor, an MS nurse, or an expert from the appropriate pharmaceutical company. These professionals are there to help you. And as drug companies improve auto-injector technology, their injection tips may change.