If using an insulin injection syringe is painful for you, you can solve the problem by changing to a different needle size. Research has shown that short, thin needles deliver insulin just as effectively as longer, thicker needles, and can be more comfortable to use. Your healthcare professional can help you make an informed decision about whether a different needle is right for you and what size to change.
Longer is not better
Injectables such as insulin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) are most effective when injected directly under the skin into adipose tissue so they can be easily absorbed and used by the body. Therefore, a long needle is not necessary. In fact, if insulin is injected into muscle tissue, it is consumed faster than necessary, which can lead to hypoglycemia . Also, if the needle pierces muscle tissue, it can cause pain, bruising, and bleeding.
Research shows that the length of the needle does not affect blood sugar control. Needles up to 4 millimeters [mm] long) do not appear to interfere with the function of injected insulin and may have advantages over longer needles because, again, they cannot reach muscle tissue, making people less likely to who used insulin. will skip self-injections to avoid pain.
Some people with diabetes fear that a shorter needle could leak insulin from the injection site, but research has shown this to be an unwarranted concern.
The needle's thickness (gauge) and not staying long enough in the skin is more likely to affect insulin leakage than its length.
Insulin pen needles are 4 to 12 mm long and 29 to 32 mm in diameter. The smaller the number of millimeters, the shorter the needle and the larger the gauge, the finer the needle. On average, human skin is between 1.6mm and 2.5mm thick, so a 4mm needle will easily pierce the skin layer.
The smallest and thinnest needle is the 32 gauge 4mm nanoneedle, which is as fine as two strands of hair. The risk of injection into muscle tissue is very rare when using this needle, so it should not be necessary to pinch the skin during injection (this is done to remove fat tissue from the muscle for a more precise injection).
4mm is considered suitable for both adults and children. Options for this length include:
- GlucoRx 4mm – 4mm 31G Universal Fit FinePoint Pen
- 4mm micro-fine BD pen needles
- NovoFine Plus 32G 4 mm
The 6mm mini-needle is typically 31 or 32 gauge, making it just as thin as the 4mm option. The options include:
- 6 mm uniform pentips
- Novofine Pen 6 mm needles
- 6mm MyLife Penfine Needles
- GlucoRx FinePoint Pen Universal Adjustment Needles, 6mm, 31G
The 8mm needle is still short and very thin, averaging 31 gauge, but skin pinching is generally required to get the most accurate dose.
Options for this length include:
- GlucoRx FinePoint Pen 8mm Universal Fit Needles, 31G
- 8mm micro-fine BD pen needles
- MyLife Penfine 8 mm needles
- Novofine Pen 8 mm needles
- 8mm uniform pentips
10mm to 12mm
The 10mm to 12mm length was once the standard needle size and many people are still used to this length today. These needles are very thin, ranging in size from 29 to 31. There is a small possibility that longer needles, such as 10 or 12 mm, will adversely affect thinner patients who have less subcutaneous fat tissue that runs through the muscle. Ask your healthcare provider if this length is right for you.
Options for this length include:
- Pentips Unifine (10mm)
- MyLife Penfine needles (10 mm)
- FinePoint Pen Universal Adjustment Needles 10mm 31G
- FinePoint Pen 12mm 31G Universal Adjustment Needles
- 12.7mm 29G BD Ultrafine Pen Needles
The FDA cautions against removing the outer and inner caps from standard pen needles and pays particular attention to needle use technique when changing to avoid underdosing .
Reduce pain with an injection.
To prevent or reduce painful discomfort when using an insulin pen, regardless of the size of the needle, you can :
- Let the insulin cool down to room temperature . Cold insulin can sting; Take it out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before the injection.
- Let the alcohol dry . If you are using alcohol to clean and prepare the injection site, let it dry before injecting the insulin.
- Try not to strain . Before the injection, take a deep breath and mentally work to relax the muscles at the injection site.
- Don't do it if . Better aim for a quick and direct penetration. Inject at a 90 degree angle to the skin and do not change the direction of the needle once you are at the injection site.
- Change injection sites . Move the injection site one inch with each dose to avoid pain, irritation, or painful bumps.
- Press, don't rub. If the injection is painful, press on the area for a few seconds, but don't rub it – this can increase insulin absorption and put you at risk for hypoglycemia.
Get the word of drug information
Always use a new needle for each injection, as repeated use of the same needle increases the risk of infection and can weaken the needle. A weak needle can bend or break during injection or become dull, causing bruising or bleeding. It is also important to properly dispose of used needles in a labeled medical waste container.