Tips For Vein Care
When it comes to ensuring the longevity of veins you cannot afford to be negligent. Treat your veins right and you shouldn't have to many problems. Of course this all depends on the type and quality of the substances that you choose to inject.
There are many ways to look after your veins when injecting and by following them they should be able to save you the trouble of having to consider injecting into more dangerous veins like the femoral vein.
Using new Injecting Equipment
By ensuring that you use a new needle and syringe everytime you inject you minimise the damage caused to the vein. You also want to use a small gauge needle, 26g 1/2" needle is the most popular at our exchange. The smaller the gauge the smaller the damage to the vein. Reusing old needles can damage your vein as they can get barbed very easily (as demonstrated by the picture) which then causes damage to the vein wall which can increase the risk of infection. And of course new needles and syringes are also sterile.
Clean area for preparation
You need to make sure that the surrounding area where you prepare your injection is clean. You can do this by wiping down the surrounding area with alcohol swabs (which you should be able to get for free from a needle exchange). They also need to be free from things that might fall into the liquid (i,e. you don't want to go smoking a cigarette at the same time as any falling ash could cause you problems). This minimises the chance of getting a dirty taste, and believe me you don't want to experience that. You should also ensure that the utensils you use have been wiped with alcohol swabs. Have your own set of spoons that only you use to keep the spread of infection to a minimum. You also will want to make sure that you have thoroughly washed your hands with antibacterial soap if possible, but with normal soap at least.
If you do happen to get a dirty taste you will want to take something for the migraine type headache you could experience (Ibuprofen or parecetamol etc.). Having another injection to counteract the dirty taste won't work. All you will end up doing is wasting it. So stick to a over the counter pain medicine, make sure you have plenty to drink as this can help flush out your system. You could also feel aching joints. From my experience it feels like you are starting to come down with the flu with a migraine at the same time. I find the best thing to do is make sure you are in a dark room and try to sleep it off. It shouldn't last more than 12 hours.
Hitting the vein the first time
If you are having problems finding a vein there are a few things you can try to increase the likelyhood of hitting the vein the first time.
By using a tourniquet you slow the flow of blood returning to the heart which causes the vein to stand out more. Just remember to release the tourniquet prior to injecting.
The warmer you are the closer the veins come to the surface of the skin to help regulate body temperature which can increase your chance of hitting the vein. Some people will have a bath prior to injecting, whilst others run or jump on the spot to increase body temperature thus allowing for a greater chance of hitting the vein the first time.
Rotation of veins
By moving between veins you give the previous injection site a chance to recover. If you practice this along with using a new needle and syringe for every injection you can go a long way to ensure that your veins will be still there to use in the long term.
After injection vein care
By using various creams you can aid in the healing of your veins. Vitamin E, Arnica and hirudoid cream are all creams which can all help with bruising and scaring. You should wait for a while before using these to give the vein a chance to calm down. For infections use an antiseptic cream like savlon, however if the infection gets worse you should seek immediate medical help.
This is what can happen if you get an infection in your injection site and have the 'she'll be right' attitude. This wound is at the needle entry point.
This person would of had to go onto a course of antibiotics for this abscess
This picture shows the abscess site being drained of its pus. The worse case scenario when it comes to abscesses is blood poisoning leading to amputation. So the moment you think you have an infection that isn't clearing up with the use of antiseptic creams you need to seek medical help.
The Following figures shows how repeated injecting in the same site without rotating between different veins can cause the vein wall to collapse.
Figure 1 - Firstly the lining of the vein wall can get damaged by the needle, drugs (especially pills), injecting too fast or often, by infection or 'flushing'/'drawing back'.
Figure 2 - After damage has been done to the vein it causes clots to form on the inside of the vein.
Figure 3 - This causes disruption of the blood flow which causes more clots to form making the vein even narrower.
Figure 4 - Eventually the vein blocks and the clots turn into scar tissue which shrinks and pulls the side of the vein walls together collapsing the vein.
Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4
Veins Of The Arm & Hand
Poor filtering, not rotating your injection sites, reusing needles and injecting too quickly are some of the things that can cause problems for your veins. Really the only way to ensure that your veins stay healthy is not to inject at all. You could smoke, snort or swallow instead. However if you insist on injecting you need to know which are the best veins to inject into.
The lower arm is the best place to inject as there are plenty of veins between your elbow and wrist.
As long as you remember to filter your drugs properly, rotate your injection sites, use new needles and syringes and swap arms, your veins should be ok. You can also use the veins on the outside of your arms too if the inside veins have collapsed, just remember to inject in the direction the blood flows, in other words towards your heart.
The upper arms would be the next best place to inject into. These veins tend to be harder to find and you should use a tourniquet, just remember to release the pressure before you start injecting as the extra pressure can cause vein damage.
After the arms the hand would be the next. You should swap to a finer gauge needle for your hands as the veins are smaller and more fragile compared to your arms. You should also use a fine wheel filter such as a 0.20 micron (while we are on the subject... wheel filters should be used for every injection), these will take care of bacteria if used them correctly. The wheel filter will drastically reduce the size of particles that pass through into your veins thus reducing the damage done.
You should avoid using your fingers as the artery lies just beneath the vein and it is very dangerous to accidentally inject into.
Injecting In The Femoral Vein
Femoral injecting is extremely dangerous.Before considering using the femoral vein talk to someone at your local needle exchange. If there isn't a needle exchange near you, you could talk to a trusted G.P or pharmacist. They may be able to suggest alternative injecting sitesbefore resorting to the femoral vein.
So, if even after seeking advice you are still intent on injecting into the femoral vein the folowing advice should help, although you need to understand this information doesn't guarantee problem free injecting and the best advice that we can give you regarding injecting into your femoral vein is to not try it in the first place.
Why Femoral Injecting Is Dangerous
Because The Femoral nerve, artery and vein are so close to each other it it possible for you to miss the vein and hit the artery instead. The blood rushes out of an artery much faster than a vein and can be much harder to stop once its started. You will know if you hit an artery if the blood is bright red and frothy, it will also rush into the barrel of a syringe without you having to pull back on the plunger. If this happens STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING IMMEDIATELY.
Injecting into an artery increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, abscesses and fungal infections in the artery wall.
Injecting Into the Femoral Artery
If you hit the femoral artery:
- Blood will spurt out so be prepared for a lot of bleeding. Have clean towels or lots of cotton wool handy to press on to the injection site.
- Gently remove the needle and then apply pressure to the site with your towel/cotton wool.
- Keep pressure on the site until the bleeding stops. Lying on your back with your leg raised may help stop the bleeding.
- If the beeding continues you need to call an ambulance.
Hitting The Femoral Nerve
There is also a chance that you could hit the femoral nerve while trying to inject into the femoral vein. The femoral nerve controls the movement in the knee and leg so hitting the nerve can cause severe damage. You will know if you hit the nerve if you feel an intense electric shock feeling go down through your leg.
If you hit the femoral nerve you will imediately feel the urge to pull out the needle. DO NOT DO THIS. Instead do the following:
- Pull the needle out slowly to try to avoid further damage to the vein.
- Then apply pressure to the site to stop the bleeding
Finding The Femoral Vein
After washing your hands and swabbing the injection site, find the position that is most comfortable for you.
- Find the femoral pulse in your groin (right or left leg, whichever is most comfortable for you).
- Gently put the middle finger of your hand on the pulse.
- Let your index finger (your pointing finger) rest beside the middle finger.
- The femoral vein should be somewhere below the index finger.
REMEMBER THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY. NOT EVERYONES VEINS ARE IN THE SAME PLACE.
- Femoral Artery
- Femoral Vein
- Saphenous Vein
- Popliteal Artery
Injecting Into The Femoral Vein
- Carefully insert the needle next to the index finger with the needle pointing in the direction of your heart.
- Push the needle in straight (at about a 90 degree angle to the leg.
- Pull back the plunger to check to see if you are in the vein. The syringe will start to full with dark red blood if the needle is in the vein.
- Inject the solution slowly, then remove the needle slowly to avoid damaging the vein.
- Use a clean towel, tissue paper etc to stop the bleeding. Press gently on the injection site for about a minute. Then check to see if the bleeding has stopped or slowed down. If the blood continues you should lie back with your leg raised and continue to press on the site. You should also be prepared for further action if the blood does not stop (i.e seek medical attention).
- Make sure the injection site is kept clean after injecting.