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Subcutaneous delivery of medication has become increasingly common. The response to pain relievers given subcutaneously is nearly as rapid as with intravenous use, but a subcutaneous needle is much easier to put into place and keep in place.

A very small needle with a short piece of tubing attached is inserted just under the skin and taped into place. Medication can be put in when needed, or a small programmable pump can be hooked up to deliver medication. The pump can be set to give a steady amount of medication.

It can also be programmed to give extra medication when the person pushes a special button. Such pumps are now smaller than a portable radio, and can be worn clipped to a belt without interfering with everyday activities. The needle usually needs to be changed every few days.

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