Is there any way to lessen the pain from blood glucose testing?
Many diabetes patients would describe the blood glucose monitoring experience as a pinprick or
pinch with very slight pain. A lancet (special needle) is used to produce a very
small amount of blood for testing the person's blood glucose level. These lancets are usually
spring loaded and/or adjustable to reduce pain. In addition, some newer models of blood glucose
monitors allow testing on areas of the body other than the fingertips.
There are some ways a patient can reduce the amount of pain from blood glucose testing:
- Avoid testing at the pad of the fingertips, which is a more sensitive area. Instead, test
on the side of the fingertips.
- Many lancet
devices can be adjusted to change the lancet puncture depth. The patient can adjust the
setting to get the necessary amount of blood with the least pain.
- Avoid testing over and over on the same fingertip. Rotate testing to allow the test sites
to heal in between tests.
- Alternative site testing (AST) is another option: Depending on the glucose meter used, the
thigh, calf, abdomen, palm, upper arm, or forearm can be used in a blood glucose test instead
of the fingertips. AST may not be as accurate as fingertip testing, however, and is not
recommended during pregnancy, when very low blood sugar is a concern, or during times of
rapidly changing blood sugar.
- Lancets should always be changed between blood glucose tests. Reused lancets may become
dull and therefore more painful to test with.
- Do not test on unhealed or infected sites.
A diabetes patient should always check with his or her doctor if there is significant pain
despite trying these techniques. Significant pain may be a sign of impaired wound healing,
improper testing procedure, or some other serious problem.
View diabetes management products available from Walgreens.com.
Back to Ask a Pharmacist