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Intramuscular Injection (Self-injection)
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Intramuscular Injection (Self-injection) Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


An intramuscular (IM) injection is a shot. The needle goes into the muscle to deliver medicine. This is usually done by a doctor or nurse. Sometimes, your doctor may teach you to inject yourself. IM injections are deeper than subcutaneous injections (given under the skin).

Intramuscular Injection
Intramuscular Injection
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Make sure you have all of the items that you will need (eg, syringe, medicine, and cleaning materials).
  • Make sure that you have the right medicine and that it has not expired.
  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water before giving the injection.
  • Select a site for injection. This should be an area on your body with a large muscle (eg, thigh).
  • Cleanse the area with an alcohol wipe.

Description of Procedure

To inject yourself :

  • Remove the needle cap.
  • Smooth the skin with one hand.
  • Hold the syringe the way you would a pencil. Insert the needle at a 90° angle to the 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.
  • 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 of biological waste.

Will It Hurt?

Depending on the medicine, 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.
  • Relax the muscles in the injection area.
  • Quickly break through the skin.
  • Do not change the direction of the needle as it goes in or comes out.
  • Do not reuse disposable needles.

Care After Injection

Follow your doctor's instructions for general care.




National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Canadian Diabetes Association

Health Canada


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.



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