An intramuscular (IM) injection is a shot. The needle goes into the muscle to deliver medicine. IM injections are deeper than injections given under the skin. This is usually done by a doctor or nurse. Sometimes, a person may be taught how to inject themselves.
A needle passes through skin and fat layers into the muscle fibers to deliver medication.
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Some medicines are better absorbed when given in the muscle. Other medicines may be given in the muscle if a person is unable to take them by mouth.
Some examples of medicines given using an IM injection are:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
To inject yourself:
Depending on the medication, there is usually some discomfort at the injection site. Soreness in the muscle is also common.
Tips for minimizing pain include:
Follow your doctor's instructions regarding care required for the injection site.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Canadian Diabetes Association
Intramuscular injection (IM). Cincinnati Children's website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/i/intramuscular-injection.
Lesson 2: Administer intramuscular injection. Brookside Associates Multimedia Edition website. Available at: http://brooksidepress.org/intramuscular/lessons/lesson-2-administer-an-intramuscular-injection.
Selecting, evaluating, and using sharps disposal containers website. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-111.
Last reviewed May 2020 by James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 5/11/2021