Intramuscular Injection (Self-injection) (IM Injection; Injection, IM; Injection, Intramuscular)

Pronounced: In-trah-MUSS-q-lerIn-JEK-shun


An intramuscular (IM) injection is a shot where the needle goes into the muscle layer under the skin to deliver medicine.This can be given by a doctor or nurse, or you can inject yourself.IM injections are deeper than subcutaneous injections (given under the skin).

Intramuscular Injection

A needle passes through skin and fat layers into the muscle fibers to deliver medicine.

2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Parts of the Body Involved

  • Upper arm
  • Top of the thigh
  • Buttocks

Reasons for Procedure

Some medications are put in the muscle and absorbed slowly over time.Other medications are put in the muscle because they are absorbed faster and, if taken by mouth, would not be effective.

These medications may be given using an IM injection:

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

The risk factor is having an allergy to the IM medication.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Make sure you have all of the items that you will need (eg, syringe, medicine, and cleaning materials).
  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water before giving the injection.
  • Select a site and cleanse the area with a cotton ball soaked in topical (rubbing) alcohol.
  • Wait for the site to dry.

Description of Procedure

  • Remove the needle cap.
  • Pinch a 2- or 3-inch fold of skin between your thumb and index finger.
  • Holding the syringe the way you would a pencil, insert the needle at a 90 angle to the pinched-up skin. (The needle should be completely covered by skin).
  • Hold the syringe with one hand.With the other, pull back the plunger to check for blood in the syringe.
    • If you see blood, do not inject. Withdraw the needle and start again at a new site.
    • If you do not see blood, slowly press down on the plunger until it stops.
  • Remove the needle from the skin and gently hold an alcohol pad on the injection site. Do not rub.
  • If there is bleeding at the site of injection, apply a bandage.
  • Immediately put the syringe and needle into a container that is puncture-proof.
  • Find out what services are available in your area for disposing biological waste.

Will It Hurt?

Depending on the medication, there is usually some discomfort at the injection site.Soreness in the muscle is also common.

Tips for minimizing pain include: Inject medicine that is at room temperature. Remove all air bubbles from the syringe before the injection. Wait until the alcohol has evaporated before injecting. Relax the muscles in the injection area. Quickly break through the skin. Dont change the direction of the needle as it goes in or comes out. Do not reuse disposable needles. Possible Complications If blood is in the solution, you will need to try injecting at another site. You may have some bleeding, soreness, or redness at the site. Allergic reaction to the medication is possible. If you may be allergic to a medication, do not inject it. Other complications that may result in excessive bleeding: Low platelet count (cells that help the blood to clot) Coagulopathy (abnormal blood clotting) Average Hospital Stay None Postoperative Care None Outcome You should expect the medicine to work in the prescribed way. Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs Difficulty giving yourself the injection Continued bleeding at the injection site A lot of pain Medicine is injected into the wrong area Rash or swelling at the injection site Fever or an allergic reaction RESOURCES:
Family National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases CANADIAN RESOURCES: BC Health Guide Health Canada References: Bielanowski DA. Intramuscular injection. Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health: Intramuscular Injection. BNet website. Available at: Accessed June 10, 2008. Intramuscular injection (IM). Cincinnati Children's Hospital website. Available at: Updated September 2007. Accessed June 10, 2008. Selecting, evaluating, and using sharps disposal containers website. US Health And Human Services website. Available at: . Accessed October 14, 2005. What are the different methods of drug delivery? Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center website. Available at: . Accessed June 10, 2008. Last reviewed October 2007 by Marcin Chwistek, MD Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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