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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.

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