Injection Technique: The Top 5 Tips

For some people living with diabetes, insulin injections are important to help control blood glucose levels … and it doesn’t have to be painful. Follow these 5 tips for safe and effective injections every time.

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Why is injection technique important?

If you are one of the over 200,000 Canadians who inject insulin on a daily basis, you know that insulin is vital to help control your diabetes.
But did you know that the way you inject it is important, too?
Injecting insulin properly means delivering the insulin where the body can absorb it best. That’s in the layer of fatty tissue that lies between the skin and muscle, called the “subcutaneous” tissue. From there, the insulin gets into the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body.
The good news is that injecting into this area should be almost painless … there are no nerve endings in the subcutaneous layer.
Injecting the insulin too deeply (into your muscles) is not only painful … it will prevent the insulin from working properly, too. So following the tips for proper injection technique is important in keeping your blood glucose levels where they should be.

Tip 1: Choose a good site

Choosing a good place to make your insulin injection is the first key to making your injection effective and pain-free. To avoid injecting into the muscle, there are two sites that are easiest: your abdomen and your thighs.
The abdomen (the middle part of your body, between your chest and your pelvis) is the best place in which to inject, because it offers the most consistent absorption of insulin of any place in the body. Remember to stay at least 5 cm (2 inches) away from the belly button.
The thighs are another good injection site. Try to inject at least one hand’s width above the knee and at least one hand’s width down from the top of the leg. The best area is the top and outer area of the thigh. Avoid the inner thigh because of the number of blood vessels and nerves in that area.
The arm is not a recommended injection site, as the recommended area to inject is hard to reach on your own, and the fatty tissue tends to be thinner there, increasing the risk of injecting into the muscle. If you do choose to inject in the arm, use the fleshy area on the back of the arm, between the shoulder and elbow.

Tip 2: Rotate your injection site

Although you might have a “favourite” area to inject, it’s important not to inject in the same place all the time. Injecting into the same spot every time can cause inflammation, scar tissue, or a breakdown of the fatty tissue in the area. This causes lumps, swelling or thickened skin, and can mean the insulin you inject might not be absorbed properly.
To avoid this problem, it’s important to rotate your injection sites … in other words, don’t inject in exactly the same place every time. Divide each area of your abdomen where you’re injecting into quadrants or halves. Use one section per week, and move your injection points within that section clockwise, spacing each injection 2-3 cm (1 inch) away from the previous one.

Don’t inject into an area that feels hard, lumpy, or his visible scar tissue.


Tip 3: Prepare your injection site

Once you’ve chosen the area where you’re going to inject, a bit of preparation of that area is important before you make the injection.
Injections should always be made with clean hands into a clean injection area, to minimize the risk of infections. The best way to do this is to wash your hands and the injection area with soap and water before you inject.  
You don’t need to disinfect the injection site with alcohol before an injection. But if you do, wipe the area with an alcohol swab, and make sure the area is completely dry before you inject. If the area isn’t dry, you may find the injection will sting a bit.

Tip 4: Don’t inject too deeply

Injecting insulin into your muscles is not only painful … it will result in poor absorption of the insulin into your body.
Here are a few suggestions to get your insulin injections into the correct spot … the subcutaneous layer of fatty tissue between the skin and muscle:
  • Use a shorter needle wherever possible. Most experts now say that a needle of 4, 5 or 6 mm is a good choice for everyone with diabetes, regardless of your weight. Unless your doctor has specifically recommended you use them, needles over 8 mm are likely too long for most people.
  • Performing a skin lift can help you insert the needle at the correct depth. Try to pinch a layer of skin, but not so deeply that you are pinching up the muscle as well. The Certified Diabetes Educator Pharmacist at Walmart can show you how. Remember to release the skin lift after you insert the needle, before you inject the insulin.

Whether you’re injecting with a pen needle or a syringe, it’s a good idea to review your injection technique with your doctor or diabetes educator. The Pharmacist at Walmart is happy to help.

Tip 5: Use your needles safely

Safe use of your needles is important, too. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Always use a fresh needle every time you inject. Re-using needles can increase the risk of infection … or your risk of a needle-stick injury if you try to recap them. Starting with a fresh needle is essential.
  • Dispose of your needles safely as soon as you are finished your injection. Place them into a sharps container or empty detergent bottle immediately afterwards, to help protect your loved ones, pets or others from an accidental needle-stick. Keep this container closed tightly, and dispose of it when full, following the guidelines of your local sanitation department.
Always store your unused needles and other insulin supplies safely out of reach of children.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is ready to help you with any questions you might have about your insulin injection technique... Just ask!

Sponsored by

  • BD Ultra-Fine Nano 4mm x 32G Pen Needles
  • FreeStyle InsuLinx
  • PGX®
  • TEVA Canada Limited

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.

BD, BD Logo and all other trademarks are property of Becton Dickinson and Company. © 2014 BD.

FreeStyle and related brand marks are trademarks of Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. in various jurisdictions.

PGX® is a registered trademark of InovoBiologic Inc.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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