When I was first diagnosed with MS, I didn’t have a choice about what disease-modifying therapy (DMT) I could take. My neurologist held up his hand and pointed one by one to each finger, with each finger representing a different DMT.
He decided a subcutaneous injection would be best. But it turns out that these injections caused me a tremendous amount of pain.
Later, I discovered techniques that could have helped me reduce the pain, which I’d like to pass along for others who may be struggling.
My treatment, Rebif (interferon beta-1a), was given via subcutaneous injection that delivered medication into the layer of tissue beneath the skin. The blessing about this method was that I couldn’t see the needle. The problem was that I was the skinniest 22-year-old you would ever see, so there wasn’t much of a fatty layer of tissue to inject into.
Every injection went straight into my muscle, prompting 30 seconds of monumental agony. I would desperately try to find a way to make the process easier by changing the settings on the needle delivery system, but it was to no avail. This torture continued three times a week for over a year. It felt like being stung by a bee.
At the time, not many alternatives to injectable DMTs were available to me here in the U.K. When I finally managed to change my DMT a year later, I had learned some things that could have made the experience much more manageable.
If you are currently taking an injectable treatment and want it to be less painful, or maybe you’ve just started and want to find a way to make it easier, following are three tips I learned too late that I wish someone had told me about sooner.
Hot and cold packs — which is better?
I would use a cold pack to numb the skin, and I intentionally left it on too long because I thought it would prevent me from feeling the injection. I do not advise doing this. It ended up hurting more because it made the already acidic-feeling medicine burn even worse.
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