How to Give an Intramuscular Injection

Syringe being filled
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The thought of giving an intramuscular (IM) injection can be overwhelming and frightening. However, we're here to reassure you that it can be done, and it's not as difficult as it may seem. Read through the steps a few times until you are comfortable. Good luck.

How to Give an Injection

  1. Assemble all the supplies you'll need: the medication to be given, syringe and needle (usually 21g or 22g, and 1 1/2" long), alcohol prep pad, gauze, band-aid.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Prepare, or mix the medication according to your instructions and draw the medication into the syringe.
  4. Attach a new needle to the syringe.
  5. You'll be giving this medication in the muscle in the buttock, so have the person getting the medication lower their pants slightly and lie down on their stomach.
  6. Divide one buttock into quadrants. You will always want to give the injection in the outer, upper quadrant, almost toward the hip.
  7. Select the site: It should be free of scars or bumps.
  8. Clean the site with an alcohol pad and allow to dry. Do not blow on it or fan the site to quicken the drying process. That just pushes the bacteria back onto the site.
  9. Spread the skin with your fingers and inject the needle straight down in a dart-like motion all the way.
  10. Pull back on the plunger a little. If you see blood enter the syringe, pull the needle out a little and inject the medication. If you do not see blood, simply inject.
  11. Pull the needle out and dispose of properly in a sharps container. Do not put medical or sharp waste in the regular garbage.
  12. Use the gauze to dab up any blood, if necessary, and cover with a bandage.
  13. Wash your hands.


  1. Apply ice on the site to numb the area just prior to cleaning it.
  2. Have the patient relax their buttock. Tension in the muscle makes the injection more painful.
  3. Massage the area afterward to enhance absorption of the medication.
  4. After drawing up the medication, change the needle. The sharper the needle is, the less painful the injection will be.
  5. Hold the syringe by the barrel and not the plunger. Keeping a finger on the plunger may cause you to inadvertently push the plunger before the needle is entirely in the tissue. This can help prevent you from wasting medication.
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