Tips and Tricks for Accessing Problem Veins

It’s not always easy, but there are ways to help make bleeding disorder infusions smoother

No two people’s veins are exactly alike. And while nobody enjoys being stuck, some people have relatively little trouble accessing veins to infuse clotting factor, while for others it’s a seemingly constant struggle. No matter what type of veins you or your child has, it helps to know these tricks when you find it difficult to access a vein:

Get warm

When the body is warm, blood flow increases, dilating the veins and making them easier to find and stick. Try the following methods to see what works best for you:

  • Apply a hot washcloth to the area you plan to infuse for several minutes before the infusion.
  • Soak the hand or arm in warm water or run it under the faucet for five minutes.
  • Take a hot shower or bath before the infusion.
  • Gently massage the area over the chosen site. Do not slap the skin to help raise the vein—you may see it on TV, but it doesn’t work.
  • Do some short, vigorous exercise, such as push-ups or jumping jacks.
Use gravity

Increase blood flow to your arm and hand by letting gravity do the work.

  • Lie on a bed or sofa and let the arm you plan to infuse hang down. Slowly making a fist or squeezing a ball and releasing it over and over will also increase blood flow to the area.
  • Swing the arm around several times like a windmill. Centrifugal force ensures blood will enter the arm, dilating the vein, and have a harder time leaving.
Hydrate

When the body is properly hydrated, veins become more dilated. Try to take in extra fluids the day before an infusion. If kids don’t want to drink water, a sports drink or juice is fine. Avoid trying to drink a lot of fluid the night before an infusion to make up for a lack of hydration earlier—you’re likely to end up with disrupted sleep from having to go to the bathroom a lot overnight.

Relax

Sure, it’s easier said than done when you’re about to stick a needle in your vein, but tension can further constrict veins, making infusion even more difficult. Put on some relaxing music, breathe in and out calmly and don’t be hard on yourself if you have difficulty—you can do this.