Relief From Sore Fingers: Alternative Locations For Glucose Testing
Regularly testing blood glucose levels is the best way to monitor and help manage diabetes. That’s a well-known fact. But the widely held belief that testing sugar levels requires lancing your finger to release a blood droplet can be dispelled. There are alternative blood testing sites on the body that are just as accurate and can relieve the tenderness in over-jabbed fingers.
Alternative Blood Testing Sites
Endocrinologists have traditionally been taught that taking a blood droplet from a finger is how you test glucose levels. The blood is placed on a disposable test strip, and a meter measures the amount of sugar in the droplet. However, fingertips have more pain nerves than other areas of the body, so they are more sensitive to lancing. Repeated testing can result in bruising or reduced sensitivity in the fingertip. A person with diabetes who plays guitar, does construction work, types, or spends days doing anything that requires hands-on effort can attest to the downside of repetitive finger lancing.
Genteel’s researchers found alternate test sites on the body that offer readings as accurate as finger tests but are less painful to lance. The results of a study on the accuracy of testing the fleshy part of the palm, just under the thumb and just under the pinky, proved glucose measurements taken in this manner were nearly identical to those taken from fingers. However, blood is not as close to the surface in the palms, meaning traditional lancing can be more challenging.
Pain From Frequent Testing Erased
Genteel’s patented vacuum and depth control system can help overcome the challenge of lancing in palms and offer a simple and painless way to test. The technology draws blood to the surface, eliminating the need for squeezing and pulls the skin away from pain nerves to minimize discomfort. The Genteel Lancing Device, which the FDA approves for use on any part of the body, is as simple as regular lancing.
Finding an alternative location can be life-changing for someone with diabetes. While the frequency of testing generally depends on the type of diabetes and the treatment plan, some individuals need to test their blood multiple times each day. The American Diabetes Association recommends target blood sugar levels of between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter or 4.4 to 7.2 millimoles per liter before meals and less than 180 milligrams per deciliter or 10 millimoles per liter two hours after meals. These goals vary with age and personal health. Still, overall, regular testing can help patients monitor how diet, exercise, stress, and medication can impact levels and help them track the progress towards reaching treatment goals. Testing is critical, so making it as comfortable as possible for the patient is important.
Cautions for Testing Sugar Levels
Outside of the palm, testing can also be done on other areas such as the calf, upper arm, thigh, or forearm, providing added relief for sore fingers. However, there are some considerations to using these alternative test locations.
First, consider the correlation between how long ago a meal was eaten and the rate of blood flow to different parts of the body. The blood in the upper thigh might take longer to register a bump in glucose after eating than a finger would. It helps to vigorously rub the area to be tested to increase blood flow, but that’s not a foolproof way to get an accurate reading.
For this reason, using alternative testing areas when glucose levels are changing rapidly, such as during exercise, after taking insulin, or after a meal, may not be the best idea. For those times, rely on a finger. But as people with diabetes must test several times a day, there are perfectly safe times to lance somewhere other than a finger.
Of course, as with anything new a patient wants to try, a consultation with a doctor first is essential and encouraged.