Many medications used to treat multiple sclerosis come as injections, making self-injecting inevitable for some MS patients. While administering your own shots is scary for many people, MS shots are not nearly as dangerous as you might think. Learning how to inject safely can help ease the anxiety.
Here's an overview of injection techniques:
Overcoming Injection Anxiety
Often the biggest obstacle to injecting safely is fear - concern about the shot, the pain, and the possibility of making a mistake. The truth: MS shots are user-friendly and relatively safe.
Following proper technique minimizes the chances of complications and makes things go more smoothly.
Your medication will come with written instructions and training services, but it's best to follow up with training from a skilled doctor or nurse just to reinforce safe practices. Ask the provider to demonstrate injection techniques several times until you have the process down pat.
Another tip: Try to stay calm and relaxed. Take deep breaths and perform relaxation techniques before administering the MS shot to ease any discomfort.
Cleansing Your Skin
Begin by thoroughly cleansing your hands with soap and water and drying them with a clean paper towel. Avoid using a bathroom towel because it can harbor germs and bacteria.
Next, choose your injection site according to the directions that come with the medication. Swab the area with alcohol, and let air-dry. Refrain from touching the cleansed site and re-introducing germs.
Administering the MS Shot
Inject the medication according to directions. After you inject the MS shot, properly dispose of the syringe. To reduce irritation, gently massage the injection site for a minimum of two minutes using a circular motion.
Try to relax the area you are injecting into as much as possible. Injecting into a very tense muscle, for example, is more painful than injecting into a relaxed muscle.
To minimize discomfort, you may apply ice (wrapped in a clean cloth) to the injection site before and/or after you inject. Apply ice for no longer than two minutes. For some, a warm compress is more soothing than ice; apply for two minutes or less.
After you administer an MS shot, it is normal for the area to be a little tender. Usually, this is all you have to be concerned about.
If, however, tenderness does not go away, or if it worsens, call your doctor. You should also monitor the site for any other odd reactions, such as swelling, redness and other signs of infection.
Rotating Injection Sites
After an injection, the site may be sore and perhaps bruised. It's a good idea to choose another spot for the next injection to allow time for healing.
You will likely have a variety of injection sites to choose among, but it depends on your medication. For example, MS medications called interferons are generally injected into the abdomen or thigh when administered subcutaneously (just under your skin) or injected into the upper arm or thigh when administered intramuscularly (into a muscle). Discuss your options with your doctor.
Give an injection site at least seven days to heal before using it again. If an injection site shows firm knots, lumps, or bruises or feels tender or painful, do not use it this time.
Once you get over the initial fear of MS shots, you'll find that self-injection becomes much easier. It helps to remind yourself of its importance. These shots are helping you maintain your health for the future, and staying well is what matters most.
By: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen