Why do shots feel different for different people?


When I get any kind of shot or vaccination they always say it’ll just feel like a pinch, but for me I can feel whatever is being pushed into my arm and it’s horrible. When I got a flu shot with my mother she said that it only feels like a pinch for her, nothing else. Why does this happen?

In: Biology

Some people are just tougher. Or maybe they don’t take the “just a pinch” literally.

I can always feel the poke, sometimes the slide of the needle, and sometimes the goo going into my arm, and sometimes the removal of the needle. I’ve never had a shot that lasted more than a few seconds, so it’s easy to such up the momentary ouch.

Sometimes the goo is just filling a space, so there’s a little pressure. Sometimes there’s a perceived or real change in temperature. Sometimes whatever it is gets a little disagreeable and can seem to burn.

The bulk of that is briefly uncomfortable, and usually returns to normal really quickly. If there’s any lasting impact, it’s usually an ache, like I bumped into something or lifted something too heavy or for too long.

Rarely, but it happens, that initial jab is less than careful, and it’s a definite, but small, stabbing pain. It, too, will subside quickly.

I’ve received hundreds of pokes for injections or blood tests by now. The worst were in the assembly lines in school as a kid, or maybe in basic training. But they still only lasted a few seconds.

Anyone should be able to handle a few seconds of horrible that doesn’t usually lead to permanent damage.

People have different tolerances to pain. There also is a psychological factor as well.

I have a high tolerance to pain. The only shot that bothers me are tetanus shots, but I have been told the needle is wider compared to other shots. The pain isn’t really bad for those, it’s just the lingering soreness that bothers me. Shots do not feel like pinches to me, for me I feel like I’m being stabbed by a needle, and then once its out I don’t feel it anymore. Since I literally am being stabbed, yknow…

I think when people say it only feels like a pinch, they are jusy trying to convey that the pain is not that bad. Of course, I hate being pinched so… that analogy doesn’t really work for me.

Some people are terrified of needles, so the pain from a needle may be high simply because they believe it will be bad. These people may have tattoos, and have been stabbed repeatedly by a needle. Fear of needles doesn’t mean they won’t get tattoos.

When people are hurt, they may need different levels of pain medication. I have had friends who had children and they took pain medication during labor, and several days/weeks afterward. For them, the pain was more intense and the medicine helped them get through that time period. I didn’t have any medicine for either of my children during labor nor after birth. I was offered medicine but told them no thanks.

I have two children. One child gets hurt and acts like nothing happened, even if they need to get stitches… 0.o totally happened… and my other child acts like it is the end of the world if she gets hurt in anyway whatsoever. She will scream when im brushing her hair, even if I havent even started brushing yet. She is very dramatic and has zero tolerance for pain. A scraped knee can “hurt” for weeks. Even after the scab has fully healed.

It is 100% okay to not like being stabbed by a needle. But if that’s your thing, maybe consider a nose piercing or something.

I saw in another thread that if you watch while you get the shot, it usually hurts worse than if you look away and make conversation with someone nearby. I wonder if you’re looking and your mom isn’t?

EDITED TO ADD: just yesterday I heard from the husband of one of the caregivers who was giving out shots at a mass vaccination center that they were literally using whatever clean needles the CDC had to spare, and some of the needles were larger bore than others. Your mom probably always gets a small bore needle because she’s a little old lady. 🙂

You may be tensing-up right before the shot. Try to relax your muscles as they are administering the shot.

Easier said than done.

I can feel the shot too. I just doesn’t hurt that much. It would hurt more (way more) if I pinched myself.

BTW, you can pinch yourself (not horribly hard) and overwhelm your pain-sense system so that some smaller thing isn’t even felt. Try that trick next time. You might not even feel the shot.