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Alternative diabetes testing sites

Traditionally, blood sugar levels have been tested through the finger-stick method, but there are alternative testing sites.


What are some common alternative testing sites?

  • Upper Arm
  • Forearm
  • Base of the thumb
  • Thigh


Why would I want to use an alternative testing site?

Some people with diabetes may simply want other options for testing, besides their fingertips. Perhaps they have a job where they need to use their fingertips, and constant testing causes soreness. Or, they may be experiencing pain from finger pricks and are looking for another place on their body for testing.


Are alternative testing sites as accurate as the finger-stick method?

Because of decreased capillary blood flow at alternative sites, blood glucose levels may differ between finger sites and, say, forearms. This is especially true if your blood glucose is rapidly rising or falling. In addition, your glucose monitoring device may not be approved to give accurate results from alternative testing sites. Blood sugar testing samples from your fingertip will give you the most accurate result. For those who are concerned with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and need quick results, alternative testing sites are not recommended.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alternative testing sites should not be used if:

  • You think your blood glucose is low
  • You don't regularly have symptoms when your blood glucose is low
  • How you feel doesn’t match the results from the alternative site



Do all meters work on alternative testing sites?

No. Read through your blood glucose meter’s manual to see if it works on alternative testing sites.



How do I find out if alternative testing sites are right for me?

Check with your doctor to see if an alternative site for blood sugar testing may be right for your diabetes self-management.


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What are diabetes complications?