How to Get an Injection Without It Hurting

Three Parts:Preparing for Your InjectionReceiving the InjectionCaring for the Injection Site Afterwards

Getting an injection — also known as a shot — is an inevitable part of a healthy lifestyle. A variety of medications, blood work, and vaccines require an injection. Fear of needles and the pain they cause is a source of anxiety for many. Taking certain steps can lessen pain during an injection.

Part 1
Preparing for Your Injection

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    Find out where you're getting the injection. Preparation for the injection depends on wear on the body it is administered. Many common injections, such as most vaccinations, are administered in the arm, while certain antibiotics may be administered to the back or the buttocks. Ask your doctor or nurse beforehand where you can expect the injection to be applied and treat that area accordingly.
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    Stroke the skin and apply pressure near the injection site. Once you know where the injection will be applied, stroke the skin and apply pressure near where the needle will go in. This will prepare your body for the added pressure of a needle in that area, and the shock of the prick will be less harsh in the doctor's office. Do this shortly before leaving for your appointment or in the car or bus ride on the way over.[1]
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    Start preparing in the waiting room. While in the waiting room, certain tasks can help prepare for your injection and distract you from the potential pain.
    • Squeeze a stress ball. This eases up the muscles in preparation for an injection.
    • Listen to music, podcasts, or books on tape. While the doctor is not likely to let you put your headphones in during the appointment, listening to music beforehand can provide a distraction so you're not too apprehensive going in.[2]
    • Read a magazine or book. If you're more easily soothed by reading than listening, a good, distracting story or article can also be helpful while waiting for your appointment.

Part 2
Receiving the Injection

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    Focus your attention elsewhere. Oftentimes, the anticipation and awareness can make the pain feel more acute. Focus your attention elsewhere while the shot is being administered to minimize pain.
    • Pretend you're somewhere else. Imagine you're soaking up the sun on a dream vacation or getting a cup of coffee with your friend. Have a variety of feel-good scenarios in mind before going in, and let your imagination flow.
    • Focus on another body part. Imagine the injection is going in a different spot than it is. This way, you're anticipating pain in another area and this distracts you from the actual injection.[3]
    • Recite a poem or song lyrics. If you have anything committed to memory, now is a good time for recital. Your energy and focus will be placed on remembering particular verses and words and not on the present moment.
    • If you happen to have a chatty doctor or nurse, engaging him in conversation before or during the injection can provide a needed distraction. The subject doesn't matter — just listening to him talk may divert your attention.
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    Do not look at the needle. Our expectations of pain can make it more intense. Recent scientific studies have provided empirical evidence that not seeing the needle during an injection makes it less painful. Do not look at the needle when receiving the shot. Either close your eyes or look away.[4]
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    Hold your breath. Hold your breath a few seconds before the injection and while it is being administered. This increases blood pressure, which in turn decreases nervous system sensitivity. While the decrease in pain is somewhat slight, if coupled with other techniques holding your breath can help reduce pain.[5]
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    Normalize the fear. The stigma and apprehension over your fear of needles, injections, and pain can make you place disproportionate focus on the injection. The fact is, fearing needles is very normal. Knowing you are not alone, and that this fear is normal, can help you relax during the process.[6]
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    Do not tighten your muscles. Tightening your muscles can make pain harsher, especially with intramuscular injections, so be sure to keep muscles loose. It is normal to tense up when scared, so certain techniques can help.
    • Breathing exercises, such as taking a deep breath, holding it in for 10 seconds, and then releasing it help if done shortly before the injection takes place.
    • Think, "I am going to get an injection," rather than, "This will not hurt." The former helps you accept the inevitable, which can allow your body to relax rather than tense up in apprehension.[7]
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    Talk to your nurse about your apprehension. Discuss any apprehensions you have about an injection with your nurse beforehand. Medical professionals are more than willing to help patients in need.
    • The nurse can give you a local anesthetic cream, which is placed on your arm to numb it and make the injection less painful. Ask before your appointment, as the cream takes up to an hour to work.
    • Nurses are also good at distracting patients and helping them relax. If you mention to your fear beforehand, he might be able to help you stay calm with relaxation techniques.[8]

Part 3
Caring for the Injection Site Afterwards

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    Place a warm washcloth on the injection site. Injection sites sometimes bother patients the next day, or even a few hours afterwards. If this is the case for you, run warm water over a washcloth and place it over the injection site. This should soothe the pain and provide some instant relief. [9]
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    Massage or rub the site. This will help disperse the medication and loosen the muscles.
    • There are two exceptions to this rule. Heparin and Lovenox injections should not be massaged afterwards, as this can lead to further soreness and bruising.[10]
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    Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. A lot of post-injection pain comes from inflammation. Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pain meds can help ease pain, swelling, and other discomforts.[11]
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    Use the body part that received the injection. While it may be tempting to slow down and rest, this is sometimes counterproductive to pain reduction. Keeping in motion, especially if the injection was in your arm, can increase circulation and help you return to normal more quickly.[12]


  • Do not think about the injections too much beforehand. In the days leading to your appointment, try to keep busy to distract yourself from worry. If you go in with built-up apprehension, you're more likely to tighten your muscles and cause yourself undo pain.
  • Try to relax before you get the shot. Take deep breaths in the waiting room, listen to music, or squeeze a stress ball.
  • If you're getting an injection in the arm, try shaking or moving your arm before the injection to loosen your muscles.
  • Hold our breath and have the doctor/ nurse count down and when they finish blow out.
  • Hold onto someone's hand if someone is with you.
  • Talk to someone (maybe your mum or dad) about the injection. You will probably be thinking now "How's this going to help?" but if you do this you're less likely to freak out when you're having it done, and parents and friends are very good at reassuring you.
  • Try not to think about it too much; distract yourself and or/look at something else as you're getting the shot.


  • Don't talk about previous injections you had. This can get you so worked up that you freak out. However, some people might find it easier to think of previous injections and how they forgot about it after a day or even an hour, depending on the person, and how it wasn't really such a big deal after all!
  • If an injection site continues to hurt for more than 48 hours, of if you experience fever, chills, or dizziness, contact your doctor as you may be having a reaction that needs medical attention.

Article Info

Categories: Injections