Ask your pediatrician about the Shotblocker or Buzzy.
Many parents dread the day when their kiddo has to receive an injection, because it means one thing when that needle goes in: Pain.
But what if we told you there were two small tools that could majorly reduce–even eliminate—the pain that comes with injections and vaccinations?
The Bionix Shotblocker and Buzzy Pain Relief Device were both designed to apply light, nerve-stimulating pressure at the injection site, which confuses the body's nerve signaling to the brain in the short-term, meaning your little one won't even feel the needle poke.
They're a dream for anything from routine childhood vaccinations to insulin injections—or even for parents undergoing hormone injections as part of fertility treatment.
Designed for kids over 12 months old, the Shotblocker and Buzzy tend to be more commonly seen in children's hospitals, where patients are more likely to receive frequent injections or IV lines. But they carry benefits when administering routine vaccinations, too.
What is the Shotblocker?
The Shotblocker is a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a horseshoe, with tiny plastic nubs covering the reverse side that touches the skin. Pressing the tool lightly at the injection site and gently pinching will push the plastic nubs into the body, creating a nerve response that then blocks the brain from feeling the actual injection once the needle goes in.
One small randomized controlled trial in 2009 found that pediatric patients, especially those age 5 and older, who used the Shotblocker had less pain than those who did not use the device.
"Before my pediatrician introduced this into our lives, my daughter would scream bloody murder when getting shots - nothing worked to calm her down, not sugar water, not lollipops, not my iPhone while getting the shot, NOTHING. Then my pediatrician whipped this thing out and, like magic, she didn't shed one tear, NOT ONE. If your kid is afraid of shots, get this - it works wonders!" said reviewer Chocolate Convert on Amazon.
Bonus? The Shotblocker is around $10, making it much cheaper than the Buzzy.
What is the Buzzy Pain Relief Device?
Buzzy is a handheld device/ice-pack combo that sends out a small buzzing vibration on the skin. The cooling feeling (thanks to the icy cold "wings") and vibrations confuse the nerves so that the brain won't recognize the sharp pinch from the needle insertion. A parent, staff member (or the patient themself if old enough) will place the Buzzy device on the skin slightly above the injection site, and the needle will enter the skin a few inches below. After the injection, the Buzzy is removed and regular nerve signaling is restored.
Buzzy seems to be regularly used by St. Jude's Children's Hospital for kids undergoing shots and other procedures involving needles. A randomized controlled trial in 2019 found that Buzzy was more effective in reducing injection pain than the Shotblocker, but it is more expensive than that tool, at $50.
One reviewer shares that she had a better experience with Buzzy than Shotblocker, too: "I am a pediatric provider, and have used [the] "Shotblocker" as well as the "Buzzy" pain blocker both on myself and on my patients. I underwent IVF and I was required to give myself [intramuscular] injections of a medication in oil for 10 weeks straight, so I got to try out a lot of different "pain blocking" techniques. This shotblocker did decrease the pain a little bit, but not as much as Buzzy does... My patients also seem to like Buzzy the best as well (it utilizes cold along with vibration to decrease pain). Buzzy is also much cuter (comes decorated as a ladybug or a bee, among other designs). The upside to Shotblocker is that is is cheaper than Buzzy, so you can easily give it a try without spending a lot of money," said reviewer Nikki M. on Amazon.
Why these devices are not more common in doctors' offices around the country, we're not sure, but you can purchase your own Shotblocker or Buzzy and bring it with you to your little one's next well-check.
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Drago LA, Singh SB, Douglass-Bright A, Yiadom MY, Baumann BM. Efficacy of ShotBlocker in reducing pediatric pain associated with intramuscular injections. Am J Emerg Med. 2009;27(5):536-543. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2008.04.011
Yilmaz G, Alemdar DK. Using Buzzy, Shotblocker, and bubble blowing in a pediatric emergency department to reduce the pain and fear caused by intramuscular injection: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Emergency Nursing. 2019 Sep 1;45(5):502-11. doi:10.1016/j.jen.2019.04.003
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