Peripheral Nerve Blocks for Anesthesia

Overview

A peripheral nerve block is a shot of numbing medicine around a specific nerve or group of nerves. It can be used to numb a part of the body (often an arm or a leg) for a procedure. It may also help control pain after the procedure.

How it's done

The doctor may use ultrasound or another method to help guide the needle that will be used for the nerve block.

After finding the right spot, the doctor uses a tiny needle to numb the skin. Then the doctor puts the nerve block needle into the numbed area and injects numbing medicine near the nerves. If you are awake, you may feel some pressure. But you should not feel pain.

The nerve block is often used with general anesthesia or with medicine that makes you feel relaxed or sleepy during the procedure. Or the nerve block may be all that's needed. In that case, you can stay awake without feeling pain.

Risks

Problems after a nerve block are not common. There is a small risk of nerve damage, infection, or bleeding. In rare cases, the medicines used can affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system (airway and lungs).

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 16, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine

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