My Insulin Pen is Jammed! Here’s Why, and What to Do About It!

Posted May 8, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

While there is not a specific answer as to why insulin pens get jammed, according to different users, there could be a variety of reasons why their insulin pen is jammed. This article will discuss all the possible causes and opinions on why users believe insulin pens get jammed and things to avoid getting an insulin pen jammed.

Here’s a quick summary of the possible reasons, then we’ll dive into more details and types of fixes.

Why Is My Insulin Pen Jammed? Below are the most common reasons why your insulin pen is jamming:

  • Old needle needs replacing
  • Incorrect type of needle
  • Not priming the pen
  • Broken or cracked insulin pen
  • Needle not screwing onto the insulin pen correctly
  • Cold insulin
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With the increasing rate of diabetes patients in the US, diabetes management has always been a market for many innovative diabetes products and devices. Some of the most common or popular devices and products used for diabetes management are insulin pens. With its handy design and reusability, it has always been a favorite diabetes device among many diabetes patients.

However, like many other devices, even insulin pens have problems and errors. One such common error is when the insulin pen is jammed, preventing the patient from getting the full dose or getting a dose at all.

Let’s get to the reasons this is happening and what to do about it.

My Insulin Pen is Jammed

Old Needle Which Needs to Be Changed

One of the great things about insulin pens is that it’s a reusable design that can be used multiple times, unlike syringes that need to be thrown after one use. 

However, what many don’t take into consideration is that the needle inserted in the pen is recommended only for one use. So, this means that if one takes multiple-daily injections, the needle will need to be changed after each injection. 

This is because the more the needle is used, the more possibilities it has to become bent. When the needle bends, it’s hard to push the needle into the skin, which may be one of the reasons using a pen can cause pain.  This can also cause insulin to be jammed and, therefore, not release insulin.

Apart from being bent, using the same needle multiple times can make it blunt, making it harder to inject into the skin, causing it to be jammed.

Think of this as a normal pen mechanism. When the tip of a pen is bent or even blunt, it’s natural to expect one can’t write using it because the ink won’t flow or may end up leaking. The same happens with insulin pens. When insulin pens are jammed, it won’t work or might end up leaking insulin when using a blunt or bent needle.

The Wrong Type of Needle

My Insulin Pen is Jammed

Insulin pens require a needle to be screwed on before injection. Many of the needles are interchangeable with most insulin pens, but some may differ in size and in how they are used. So, if you use the needle correctly or if you are using the wrong size for what you need, then it may cause the insulin pen to jam.

Many believe short needles are relatively easier to inject (with less pain) and gives a smooth flow of injecting.

This is because short needles are generally easier to insert. Whereas with longer needles, the length of the needle can make it difficult to inject under the skin, which is more likely to cause it to bend.

Not Priming the Pen

When air bubbles are contained within the insulin pen, the pressure is built up, making it hard to push down the needle, causing it to jam. This is why priming the insulin pen is a must before injecting anything.

Priming is where the patient turns the dial to indicate 2 units after the needle has been placed on the pen. You then point the pen with needle facing upward so that any bubbles go toward the needle. You then push down on the dial, expelling any bubbles.  

Apart from this, many leave the pen needle on the pen after injection.

So, when a needle is left open to the air, it’s easier for air to build up in the pen. Therefore, it’s always a good practice to remove the needle after using it, and where possible, only use the needle once.

And when inserting a new needle, hold the pen upright in the air and tap the side of the insulin pen. This will help move any air to the top of the fluid, and it will then be ejected in the test shot as outlined above.

Besides, pushing down the plunger with no needle inserted can also cause air and pressure to be built inside. This again can cause the pen to jam.

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Broken or Cracked Insulin Pen

A broken or cracked insulin pen can be overlooked in some cases but can certainly cause an insulin pen to become jammed.

First off, a crack in the cartridge portion of the insulin pen can cause insulin to leak out. This causes air to get into the insulin as well.

Secondly, a crack or deformity of the threads where the needle is screwed on can cause problems. It can cause the needle to be incorrectly screwed on.

Damage to the plunger portion of the insulin pen can also lead to problems. If the plunger is cracked or damaged in some way, then it may be difficult to administer insulin fully. You may not notice this mechanical failure until you have already started to inject your dose.

Needle Not Screwing Into the Insulin Pen Correctly 

This is something that happens when changing needles. When the needles aren’t screwed on properly or are positioned incorrectly, it becomes hard for the pen to work correctly. When the needle is not positioned correctly, it becomes much harder to push the dial down, causing the insulin pen to be jammed. 

If the needle is not screwed on correctly, then it may also be difficult or painful to push the needle through the skin.

Again, it is recommended that you prime the insulin pen after placing a new needle on the pen. Doing so will help prevent many of these problems. 

Cold Insulin

It’s good practice to store your unopened insulin in the fridge. After opening a new insulin pen, it will last approximately 28 days. So, you can leave the current insulin pen you are using out of the fridge, as it is best not to inject cold insulin. 

It is not exactly clear how cold insulin may cause an insulin pen to jam, but some users suspect it to be a cause due to the medication’s consistency.

Other Reasons and Final Points

My Insulin Pen is Jammed

These are the most common reasons why an insulin pen is jammed for many users. Your insulin pen may jam because of these reasons, and most defects will probably fall into these categories. There may, of course, be other reasons different from the ones we’ve outlined above.

Don’t let this put you off using your pen, though. Insulin pens are typically made to withstand harsh use, and an insulin pen jamming is a pretty rare occurrence.

Sometimes it may just be that users aren’t pushing the insulin pen enough against the skin, which gives the impression the insulin pen is jammed.

However, to clear any confusion, it’s always good practice to call the insulin pen manufacturer (the brand) and ask for a solution or get advice from a doctor.

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To Finish

We hope this has been useful in understanding more about why your insulin pen is jamming and offering some advice and solutions around it. If your insulin pen is jammed, then it can result in uncontrolled blood sugar levels. If in any doubt, always consult your doctor. 

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding affording your medication. The team at Prescription Hope knows that it can be difficult to afford life-saving medications, such as insulin. We work directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide you with the medication you need at a set, affordable cost. Enroll with us to find out if you are eligible.

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