I was diagnosed with MS May of 2006. Symptoms started at least a year before that.
I started taking Avonex this summer. I chose it for the convenience of its once weekly injections. My biggest concern was the side effects. Thankfully, the side effects have been mild and manageable.
The surprising difficulty with taking Avonex has been the fear of injecting. Even more surprising was that the first nine or ten injections went very well with no, or almost no, discomfort. I do all my injections myself in the thigh alternating from one leg to the other with each injection.
Then out of the blue the tenth or eleventh injection was painful. Not extremely painful, but I was expecting no pain. The next two shots were also painful. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being most uncomfortable and 5 being least uncomfortable, I rated these three shots a 3.
Ever since these painful shots, I cannot bring myself to do shots without help. The help comes in the form of my wife squeezing the lower leg opposite the one I am injecting with her fingers and nails. She does no damage but the distraction keeps me from focusing on the sensation of the injection. It also gives me reason to get on with the injection.
Once I have plunged the needle in, I tell her to stop and I try to relax. Then I continue to plunge the needle and inject. I have done the last four injections this way and I have rated them 4s and 5s on the comfort scale.
Also, after the painful injections I have narrowed the areas where I will inject. The video from the makers of Avonex indicates that the area of the upper thigh where the injection should take place is one hand LENGTH from the knee while seated and one hand LENGTH from the waist. The nurse who showed me how to inject showed me to use the hand’s WIDTH. His way gives me a much wider area to inject, however perhaps some of this additional area is more painful than the more center areas of the thigh.
I was told of the technique of icing the area before injecting but I would imagine this is only good for near-the-surface pain and I have no pain until the needle get into the muscle.
Relaxing my muscle seems to help but I was not relaxed the first few times I injected so I wonder why it did not hurt then. I am glad that it did not!
I read on an MS site (I forget which) a doctor’s response to an inquiry about sporadically painful IM injections. He said that the muscles in some unpredictable places have bundles of nerves that are obviously painful if you find them with the needle.
I am looking for some advise from those taking Avonex.
Have you injected in basically the same areas of the upper thigh each injection without problems?
Have you found ways of dealing with injection anxiety?
At this point, I don’t see my anxiety ever going away.
Thank you for your time.