Injection questions

When I first started on insulin about 5 years ago, I thought, wow, this is easy and pain free.

I didn’t feel the needle, the injection was smooth and painless, and I wondered why anyone would object to insulin.

BUT, . . . there are times when the needle isn’t pain fee. There are times when the injection burns. There are times when there is much resistance to the plunger.

Oh, I guess I should mention that I use my stomach and rotate locations. I inject several times per day.

Anyone else experience these things when injecting insulin? I have no idea why this happens at times and other times it is as I described as painless, and smooth.

The resistance feels like I am trying to inject into a rock, so I am forced to pull it out and move to another spot close by the original stick.

Why does it burn on occasion?

Why am I skin sensitive to the needle some days?

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That’s exactly how it is for me. Sometimes it’s completely painless. Other times it feels like I have imjected acid under my skin.

I have always thought it’s that I’m hitting a nerve when it hurts like that. I could be completely wrong, but that what I envision is happening.

Some parts of me are more sensitive than others. I use abdomen, but I also used hips, thighs and butt. Abdomen seems to be the most sensitive area on me. The other places, not as much.

I too am on MDI and have been for decades enduring the same situation. I think that it’s just how it is.


Hi Babs5:

I have been MDI for decades and have never been able to inject in my stomach. The burn, the pain and even cramp that ensues is intolerable.

Ways to mitigate pain:

  1. Inject just above the belt line in fat in the area pretty much just directly below nipples. Move injection site a little each time. You can also inject in other areas such as legs, buttocks, love handles in back of body and you should find no difference in effectiveness of insulin.

  2. Inject slowly, when able. Some digital pens inject at a constant rate so that won’t work.

  3. Test and see how much insulin it takes to create pain and then portion out the dose. If you inject 15 units, for example, it could be quite painful but if you inject 5 units 3 times with 10 seconds or so rest between injections, no more pain.

  4. Do not inject insulin that just came out of the refrigerator. Cold insulin is a lot more painful than room temperature insulin. If you need to take some and have no room temperature insulin available, take the pen, vial or whatever you use and roll it between your warm hands for a few minutes to warm it up a bit.


@Babs5 I had the same experiences, which is one reason I moved to a pump

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Sometimes it just burns and hurts. I hate injecting in abdomen so I use legs and arms when I have to inject. But I love my pump and place it in my abdomen with pleasure. But sometimes, legs, backs or abdomen it also hurts. Life (and pain) just happens sometimes.

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Thanks to all that responded. It makes me feel much better to know that I am not alone in having these incidents.

To Cinderfella, I, too, have felt that I must have hit a nerve when I have the “ouch” when the needle hurts.

When I get the burning feeling, I think I may have hit a tiny blood vessel, but that is just a guess.

Your comments were greatly appreciated.

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Any one get the resistance that I mentioned?

Thanks for your suggestions and response. I always try to take my insulin out of frig the day before I need it. (Pen)

One pen allows me to inject at my own pace and I do inject slowly and actually count out each unit click by click. The other pen administers at “one” touch so I can’t adjust the pace.

I do use my thigh on rare occasion, in a restaurant for my convenience. I may try some other alternate sites.

The “amount” of insulin doesn’t seem to cause the pain. When I have a painful or burning injection, it is usually right away, at the very first few units. The burning just gets worse as I continue to inject my 34 units.


Thanks. I am looking into using the Omnipod but not sure if I will qualify since I am Medicare. I know they have “criteria” for almost everything diabetic.

I will ask my doc about it at my next appointment.

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If you dose to meals you should be covered. Nancy50

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You should have no problem qualifying for a pump. You shouldn’t worry about that. As long as your doctor fills out the paperwork correctly, you should get your pump very quickly.

@Babs5 : Do you ALWAYS use a fresh needle? Bits of skin caught in the needle can make it stick and suddenly come free like that.

There are also some individual pens that just stick sometimes. After all, they are cheapie disposable devices.

some insulin formulations are going to burn. Lantus, for example. Of all the insulin’s I’ve used, that’s the one that I can feel.

I think a lot of the prefilled pens that stick are due to needle re-use. Basal insulin including Lantus and Levemir are like glue and the pen tends to stick after just a few injections using the same needle. The work around that I have found best is after using a basal insulin, flush the needle out with 0.5 units of Humalog. That way you can easily get 50+ shots with the same needle before it plugs or the tip gets so badly bent that the skin pulls when the needle is pulled out. My digital pen senses when insulin flow starts to reduce due to plugged or semi-plugged needle restriction and gives an error reading.

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YES, I ALWAYS use a fresh needle. It is NOT the insulin nor the pen that is the problem. The insulin flows freely during the priming of the needle. If I feel resistance, STRONG resistance, I will pull out of the site and move to another site and it works fine. It is definitely something at the site and I rotate sites all the time.

I have experienced the “burning” on occasion with all three of the insulins I have used. Doesn’t seem to matter which insulin it is, so I am thinking it must be hitting a small blood vessel on occasion.

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The only other insulin that bothered me was the old beef/pork formulas, and that’s because I was allergic to the beef component so I got switched to Purified Pork types. However, it wasn’t a burning sensation like I get with Lantus. that downright stings. Luckily I pump so I don’t have to deal with Lantus, but I went off my pump for one year in a stupid move to lose weight. I lost weight, but my bg’s were too variable. I went back on my pump and don’t miss using Lantus, or MDI in any form, for that matter.

I’ve managed to lose weight since that time off of a pump–it just takes a lot of will power…sigh…

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I have a theory that many subcutaneous nerves run along blood vessels. The reason I think this may be true is that I often experience a bleeder when the insulin injection or CGM insertion is painful.

I rarely feel a burning sensation when injecting my Apidra insulin but speculate that we vary from each other and some insulin formulations irritate some people more than others. I know I experience an allergic reaction to Novolog at pump sites.