Canadian scientists have long been on the forefront of reducing unnecessary pain. Dr. Anna Taddio at Toronto’s Sick Kids has spearheaded the efforts – her studies demonstrate that infants remember pain, that fear of needles reduces parents’ willingness to vaccinate, and that needle fear has skyrocketed in the past two decades. In concert with raising awareness, she and her team have analyzed the scientific literature to determine best practices to reduce needle pain.
The team’s guidelines in 2010 have been cited by the World Health Organization, among others, and recently have been revised to include the newest research, and expand tips to include adult pain management. They recognize 5 practice areas that can make injections a better experience: procedural interventions, physical approaches, pharmacologic and psychological interventions, and the process itself.
Here are the 5 of the newest or best proven tips to reduce pain:
1. Bring a Buzzy! “We suggest an external vibrating device with cold during vaccine injections.” – Since 2010, research has shown that vibration and cold can block the pain of an injection – in one study, Buzzy® decreased the pain of an injection 75%. In 2010, stimulating near the site was recommended, but this 2015 guideline actually states “We suggest against manual tactile stimulation during vaccine injection.” – support for rubbing or nubbins didn’t have enough scientific support.
2. Nurses: Don’t aspirate the needle, and give young children the most painful shot LAST
3. Breastfeed, or at least give sucrose or allow skin to skin contact while infants get injections
4. Use topical anesthetics before injections. Of note, Buzzy was recently found to be equivalent to the over the counter topical anesthetic LMX.