Injecting Avonex

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/27/2007 3:08 PM (GMT -6)   

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.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 3571
   Posted 10/27/2007 9:00 PM (GMT -6)   

Hey Spaz,

I am glad you found us here.  I love your name.  I am sorry you are having a tough time with those injections.  I do not use avonex so I cannot help you.  Someone will be along shortly to offer advice.  Welcome to the board and good luck.  I am glad you have the support and love of your wife......I love the leg squeezing strategy.  You are being creative in your approach to this disease and that is great.  It shows your commitment to fighting this.  Good for you!!!  Hang in there and keep us posted as to how you are doing.

Love and prayers,


Diagnosed with MS July 2006
Co-moderator MS forum
I was strongest when I laughed at my weakness.
Elmer Diktonius

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 59
   Posted 10/27/2007 9:47 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been taking Anonex for about a year now. I usually inject high up on my thigh as possible. I found the closer to the knee the more painful. Like you, there was hardly any pain the first couple of months. Then out of nowhere it started to hurt, sometimes it would bleed pretty bad. I tried soaking in the bathtub to relax me right before the shot, it seemed to help my anxiety and the injections were not painful. I also realized that the more I thought about doing the injection the more nervous I got. So I try to just do it with out hesitating or thinking about it. It hardly ever hurts any more, but I look at it this way, even if it does, it will only hurt for a few seconds then its over. Good luck and have faith that it will get better. I'm sure it will.

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/27/2007 10:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the replies. They are welcome and encouraging. I will be back later to see if anyone else has any advice for me.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 334
   Posted 10/27/2007 11:36 PM (GMT -6)   

Hi Spaz and welcome,


I don’t have any experience with avonex, so unfortunately can’t help there. I injected copaxone for around nine months. While it is not like injecting into a muscle, I did have some initial anxiety about my injections. Like TiaJoy mentioned, I found that the longer I hesitated and thought about it, the harder it was to take the plunge and inject. I eventually made a routine of watching something funny on TV while I was injecting. I would get everything ready, and then “casually” inject once I was engrossed in the program. Since I was distracted, I didn’t build up all that dread. I don’t know how much that would help in your situation, but I thought I’d mention it.



Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 10/28/2007 7:12 AM (GMT -6)   


I was dx in Aug 06 and been on Avonex ever since.  From the beginning I have not used the needles that come with the preloaded med.  The nurse introduced me to a thinner needle and its much better.  The needles are shipped with a 23G 1 1/4" needle.  She used a 27G 1 1/4 needle.  The doc gave me a whole box and also a prescription for more.  Also Avonex has now said we can use a smaller shorter needle.  I believe they only recommend a 25G 1" needle.  A friend of mine wanted the new needles and got the 25G and likes them a lot better than the one that come with the shots also.  I did find out that the thinner 27G is hard to find.  B-D is the brand that I am using and they supposedly dont make that size anymore, so I might have to go to the 25G also when this supply runs out.   I did get my pharmacist to get a sub one time and he came up with a 27G 1 1/2" and it wasnt bad either.  So there is hope for a less painful needle injection method.  Check with your doc about a prescription for at least the 25G and maybe they can supply you with the other size also.  Hope this helps.


Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 144
   Posted 10/29/2007 2:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Spaz, I have been on avonex for 7-8 yrs now. I get injected in the thighs doesnt hurt.But i am finding i am having side effects now.Day after injection my legs feel like lead.Once I get moving less discomfort.And stronger tylenol seems to help.You may want to put an ice-pack on the site before you get your shot.I dont do that but I have heard it helps others.Biogen should be able to answer any questions you have. In fact they should be calling you to check up on you.I also assume you get it from a specialty pharmacy? If so they should be avaliable to answer any questions you have. Hang in there..............
diaganosed 1983
avonex once weekly
steroid infusion every three months for three days
mycoline three times a day
fosamax once a week
bladder meds. daily

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/29/2007 7:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you all for your wonderful, caring advice. Just getting feedback from folks in the same boat as me is comforting. I have made a list of all the advice and will see what works for me. Again thanks.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 11/15/2012 6:33 PM (GMT -6)   
November 15, 2012
My name is Don. I have MS. I see that you use or think of using Avonex. I’ve had nothing but problems with it short and long term. I’m gone to starting a class action suit. Would you be interested? Don
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