What is a peripheral nerve block?

Peripheral nerve blocks are anesthetic injections administered along any of the peripheral nerves. They can be used to treat pain in all parts of the arms, legs, face, and neck. Peripheral nerve blocks may also be used as pain control during and after surgery. Common sites include the radial nerve, brachial nerve plexus, and ulnar nerve in the upper extremity. Other common uses include the treatment of sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Am I a candidate for peripheral nerve block?

You are a candidate for a peripheral nerve block if you are undergoing surgery on a limb or are experiencing pain in an extremity. Additionally, if you have been diagnose with sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be a candidate. Talk with your doctor to decide if a peripheral nerve block is a treatment option for you. You are not a candidate for a peripheral nerve block if you are allergic to local anesthetics, if you have problems with bleeding or clotting, or have an infection of your blood or the skin near the injection site. Be sure to tell your doctor if you take blood thinners such as heparin, Coumadin, or aspirin. You will likely be told to stop taking those medications prior to the procedure, but never stop taking blood thinners without being instructed to do so by your provider.

How long will the peripheral nerve block procedure take?

Peripheral nerve blocks are not lengthy procedures. However, the number of injections you might need depends on the painful area. Some areas are enervated by more than one nerve, so more than one injection is necessary. After the area is cleansed and numbed with a local anesthetic, an ultrasound probe is used to guide the needle to the nerve. Your provider may use a nerve stimulator to help determine the proper location for anesthetic injection. Once the painful nerve is identified, a local anesthetic is injected to numb the nerve.

How long will it take to recover from a peripheral nerve block?

Peripheral nerve blocks are minimally invasive. You will be monitored for about fifteen minutes for signs of an allergic reaction and asked about your pain to document effectiveness of the procedure. Relief may be immediate or may take a few days to become apparent. You will likely experience some soreness at the site following the procedure. Consider applying ice to the injection spot to help decrease pain.