Peripheral Nerve Blocks

Peripheral Nerve Block Patient Education Guide

What is a peripheral nerve block?

A nerve block puts a part of your body to sleep by making it “numb” in preparation for surgery. It is a way to block the pain signals that travel along the nerves. By doing so, the nerve block helps you to not sense pain from the surgical site.

Why do I need a peripheral nerve block?

■ Surgeries, especially orthopedic surgeries, can be painful. Postoperative pain can limit or slow your recovery by making it difficult for you to participate in physical therapy, walk, go to the bathroom etc.

■ Peripheral nerve blocks work together with other pain medications (opioids, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, etc.) to provide optimal pain control.

■ The goal is to provide the best possible pain relief with the least opioid use.

How long will the block last?
The block may last anywhere from 12 hours to 36 hours.

What happens when the block wears off?

■ The block may wear off suddenly or gradually.

■ You may feel tingling sensations before the block starts to wear off.

■ It is common to feel pain after the block wears off and sometimes it may feel like a lot of pain which may cause some concern to you.

■ We strongly advise patients to take pain medication before the block completely wears off to help ease the transition.

When should I be concerned about the block?

■ If you continue to feel the effects of the peripheral nerve block for longer than 3 days, please contact your surgeon’s office.

How and when is the peripheral nerve block performed?

Nerve block procedures are most commonly done in the pre-operative area (before going into surgery).

■ You will meet your “regional block team,” led by an anesthesiologist.

■ You will be given some relaxing medication through your intravenous line (IV) before the nerve block is performed. You will be placed on a heart monitor and given some oxygen.

■ Within a few minutes after the block is placed, your arm or leg may start to feel weak, numb or like “pins and needles”. That means your block has started to work. After several minutes, depending on the type of the block, your arm or leg will either fully or partly be numb and weak. It may be difficult to lift or move your arm or leg. You will be asked to not move your blocked arm or leg and to not get out of your bed. This is to avoid any injury to your blocked limb and for your safety.

■ The entire procedure may take about
10-20 minutes to complete

What does a peripheral nerve block do?
Integrated Anesthesia Associates