What Are the Different Types of Intramuscular Injection Needles?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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When administering medication, it is sometimes in the best interest of the patient and provider to use an injection. Injections can help decrease the amount of time it takes for medicine to enter the bloodstream and can also reach specific areas of the body that could not be targeted as easily with an oral route of medicine administration. There are basically three ways in which intramuscular injection needles can vary: the diameter of needle size, length of needle, and syringe volume.

While injections are very important and useful in medicine, they are often perceived as a negative thing by the patient. This is usually because they are notoriously painful, and sometimes, an injection site can be sore for a very long time. For this reason, most people veer away from injections, although in certain circumstances, injections cannot be avoided. Intramuscular injection needles are designed to penetrate all layers of the skin and reach a muscular area that is the target of a particular medicine.

There are different reasons why needles should vary. A very thin person may have muscles positioned in close proximity to their skin, while a more robust individual could have layers of adipose tissue filling the void between muscle and skin. Location, such as injection in the shoulder versus the abdomen, is also a factor affecting the type of needle needed.


The term gauge refers to the diameter of the needle itself. Larger-gauge needles are typically used to administer a greater volume of medicine. They are also more painful, as described by patients, due to the greater amount of skin displaced upon entry. Another variation among intramuscular injection needles is the volume of the syringe. The syringe is the part of the needle that holds the actual medication, and variations allow for different amounts of medicine to be injected.

Needle length is also a common way in which intramuscular injection needles can be different. It is useful for allowing access to different regions of the body. Longer needles can find deeper muscles but are sometimes cumbersome for someone to use. Smaller needles can be maneuvered more easily but may only be used for more shallow injections.

There are also technological differences in needles, with some intramuscular injection needles now being designed to instantly retract after injection. These are a few of the many ways in which needles already vary. More variations will likely come about with the development of new technology in the medical field.


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