An intramuscular injection is a technique used to deliver a medication deep into the muscles. This allows the medication to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. You may have received an intramuscular injection at a doctor’s office the last time you got a vaccine, like the flu shot.
In some cases, a person may also self-administer an intramuscular injection. For example, certain drugs that treat multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis may require self-injection
What are intramuscular injections used for?
Intramuscular injections are a common practice in modern medicine. They’re used to deliver drugs and vaccines. Several drugs and almost all injectable vaccines are delivered this way.
Intramuscular injections are used when other types of delivery methods aren’t recommended. These include:
- Oral (swallowed into the stomach)
- Intravenous (injected into the vein)
- Subcutaneous (injected into the fatty tissue just under the layer of skin)
Intramuscular injections may be used instead of intravenous injections because some drugs are irritating to veins, or because a suitable vein can’t be located. It may be used instead of oral delivery because some drugs are destroyed by the digestive system when a drug is swallowed.
Intramuscular injections are absorbed faster than subcutaneous injections. This is because muscle tissue has a greater blood supply than the tissue just under the skin. Muscle tissue can also hold a larger volume of medication than subcutaneous tissue.
Benefits of Intramuscular Injections
- Simple and Accessible
The method is simple and very accessible. When injections cannot be administered by doctors or no one trained is around, it is difficult to administer intravenous or even the subcutaneous injections. Intramuscular injections are much easier to administer. Most people can easily access their thigh muscles. One can even access the deltoid or the gluteus muscle.
- Unaided Administering
There are medical devices available that make administering intramuscular injections easier but one doesn’t have to use them. With some intravenous injections and subcutaneous injections, you would depend on some medical devices. You don’t need to find a vein or the exact depth of the fat inside the skin.
- Imperative for Many
Intramuscular injections are necessary to administer some vaccines and many drugs including immunoglobulins. You cannot administer these as subcutaneous or intravenous injections. Intramuscular injections can supply a larger volume of the drug or fluid. The intake is much more since muscles have a larger capacity than the veins. Since medicine is not directly getting into the bloodstream, there is a sustained-release that can have the desired effect in certain cases. Not everyone or every condition benefits from an instant release of medicine into the bloodstream.