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.
Learn more about blood glucose monitoring in the Health Encyclopedia.
View diabetes management products available from Walgreens.com.
If you're looking for more specific answers to specific questions, ask a Walgreens pharmacist here.