An intramuscular (IM) injection is a shot. The needle goes into the muscle to deliver medication. This is usually done by a doctor or nurse. Sometimes, your doctor may teach you to inject yourself. IM injections are deeper than injections given under the skin.
A needle passes through skin and fat layers into the muscle fibers to deliver medication.
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Some medications are better absorbed when given in the muscle. Other medications may be given in the muscle if you are unable to take them by mouth.
Some examples of medications given using an IM injection:
Complications associated with IM injections are:
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. Updated December 2013. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Lesson 2: Administer intramuscular injection. Brookside Associates Multimedia Edition website. Available at: http://brooksidepress.org/intramuscular/lessons/lesson-2-administer-an-intramuscular-injection. Accessed August 27, 2014.
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. Updated June 6, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Last reviewed June 2016 by James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 5/11/2015