Painful Dexcom Sensor

Just had to remove a new Dexcom sensor because it was REALLY painful after insertion. I put it on the back of my left arm, I’ve worn it there before and had pretty good results. But this time whenever I reached out with my arm I was getting surprisingly sharp pains, not the little pinches you might get occasionally. Does anybody know what causes this? Did I hit a nerve, or was I too close to bone, was the angle bad or something? I’m bummed because it’s not easy to insert one there, not sure where I’m going to put it now :frowning:

Hi Lilli - We’ve all inserted sensors that were painful. When I put it in and it’s painful, I’ll give it a few hours. If the pain remains, I just pull it. Dexcom will replace the sensor if you call.

I’ve found with sensors and pump sites, pain means you’ve hit close to a nerve. With my pump, pain often indicates I’m close to or even pierced a blood vessel. I ready myself with plenty of kleenex in that case.

Since you’ve already had success with the back of your arms, I wouldn’t let this one bad instance discourage you. Let this arm heal and return with another try. Your chances are good that you’ll find another sweet spot. It’s a bit of a crap-shoot. Good luck!

Hard to know but if it’s associated with a specific movement it might be impinging on the muscle when you flex a certain way. In any case like Terry4 says, I’d let Dexcom know that you had to relocate–they’re pretty good about supplying you with a replacement when you’ve had to discard because of a bad location–and just try a different spot.

I put it on my stomach Terry, it’s hard for me to do it on my arms and get it high enough so it won’t show but find enough fat, but I’ll try the next one there though. Thanks @DrBB I’ll call and see what they say!

I’d bet real money this was the tip of the sensor wire scratching against the underlying muscle. I’ve had this happen a few times (for me on my thigh), and that was the problem.

Backs of arms are one of the toughest locales to apply. You only have one hand to manage the inserter. However, I’ll say that once you’ve practiced enough to get it down, it’s the best spot, and technique can be learned to never have this problem.

Boy it was touching something @Dave26 that’s for sure, I was shocked at how painful it was and I like to think of myself as pretty tough but that thing was coming out ASAP! Maybe I’ll have my husband help with the next arm insertion, although I prefer to do it myself, oh well that one was a big ole’ fail. What direction do you point the sensor Dave, with the narrow or wide end of the transmitter pointing towards your elbow?

Hi Lilli,

When I first used Dexcom 3 years ago, the last generation, I tried the second sensor in my arm: it was really difficult to do on my own and I needed help to get the inserter off of me- I didn’t have the kind of pain you’re describing but it was painful and when it caused a headache I took it out. The first one, in my abdomen, was painful also, more so than the arm sensor. I sent it back after the arm fiasco, due to that and due to bad inaccuracy.

Dexcom replaced my last problematic sensor which caused some bleeding at insertion but I had to call twice and get a special ok because the sensor expiration date was overdue apparently. When I took it out there was almost no blood, so what had looked like a fair amount of blood initially was nothing really. Still as I recall the sensor had way more than the usual problems I have with sensors.

I put them all in my stomach or hips now. Unfortunately I have horrible red marks from the more recent sensors this time around on my tummy- not good for the beach. I wish someone, Dexcom or anyone, would make a much smaller sensor which stayed under the skin entirely for a longer period.

When I first got my Dex a few months ago meee I didn’t like the idea of sticking something on my belly so I used the back of my arms even though it was hard to insert there. But I have a problem with accuracy when my BG is normal or slightly low, Dex thinks I’m even lower, so I did try my thigh and then my belly. I can’t say the accuracy is any better or worse but insertion is certainly easier and it doesn’t bug me like I thought it would to stick it on my stomach, although this last one is at waistband level, oops not so good. There is a CGM that will be implantable in an FDA trial right now I believe, it looks quite small and is left in for months rather than weeks which would be cool!

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I always orient it so the wire is inserted pointing toward my shoulder. Although I don’t think it makes a difference – just sort of an OCD thing for me, it seems more “correct” that way. The other way seems “upside down”. None of that is consequential – all just psychological.

As for the painful sensor, yeah :wink: If it was getting worse and worse the longer it was in, it was definitely hitting the underlying muscle. I had one that was mildly pricking on my thigh once, decided to tough it out. By day 3 it was so painful I could barely walk. When this problem occurs, it only gets worse as the irritation continues.

As for apply to the tricep area, technique is simple, but difficult to achieve; basically, be very careful to make sure the sensor carrier is absolutely flat and flush with the contour of your skin before pushing the plunger, and then make sure it stays that way as the plunger is fully inserted. It’s not easy with one hand.

However, once you get good at it, you won’t have any more problems. Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of practice, practice, practice. Once you get it down, though, you won’t want to wear it anywhere else!

That’s great! I can’t wait for that one, do you know what it’s called- have a link for the study? I frequently hit the waistband area, lol, even when I try not to… with stretchy skirts it’s ok though :smile:

One thing I would not do is point it vertically down so the base is facing up because then water goes directly into the sensor- I found that out when I put one vertically on my hip the time before last. This last one on my stomach has been great so far, knock on wood, going into week 3 I think now :smiley:

Can’t remember where I read the article but I found their website and a photo of the sensor here and another company working on one is here. As a newbie with Dexcom I get confused when people talk about the way they place it when vertical. Are you saying you put the “G4” down or on top?

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Thanks Lilli,

That looks interesting- I will try to find the trial. I wonder if the technology will be more stable as they say than dexcom. Hopefully we will be using one soon. For the placement: Don’t put the G4 on the logo facing down if you place it vertically because the back part which is more open will have water running right into it when you bathe. I have noticed that water gettting in is often what seems to start causing some sensor problems as time goes by. Also dexcom says to place it horizontaly. I will probably never do an arm one again because of the problems I had, it is also harder to conceal and I really don’t want to walk around with the huge dexcom sensor visible. :blush: