Skip to main content

Peripheral Nerve Block

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What do I need to know about a peripheral nerve block?

A peripheral nerve block is a type of regional anesthesia. Medicine is given as an injection to numb part of your body. The arm and leg are the most common areas for a peripheral nerve block. Other areas include the head, neck, back, abdomen, and hip. You may need a peripheral nerve block during surgery or a procedure. You may have less pain after surgery, and be able to go home sooner. Peripheral nerve blocks can also be used to treat severe pain. The pain relief usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks.

How do I prepare for a peripheral nerve block?

Tell your healthcare provider if you or anyone in your family has ever had problems with anesthesia. You may need to arrange to have someone drive you home after your nerve block. Your provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your nerve block. Your provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your nerve block. Tell your provider about all the medicines you take, including vitamins and herbs. Your provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your nerve block.

What will happen during a peripheral nerve block?

  • You may receive medicine in your IV to make you sleepy and more relaxed. Your healthcare provider may use an ultrasound or nerve stimulator to find the nerves to numb. An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of the body area on a monitor. A nerve stimulator uses a small electrical current that causes your muscle to twitch when the nerve is found.
  • Once the nerves are found, a needle is put through your skin into the tissue near the nerve. Anesthesia medicine is given through the needle into tissues around the nerve to be numbed. Medicine to reduce bleeding may also be given. There may be some discomfort when the numbing medicine is given. Your body part may feel tingly before it becomes numb.

What will happen after a peripheral nerve block?

You will be monitored until the numbness goes away. It may take a while before you can move the area that was numbed. If you are staying in the hospital, you may be taken to your room. If you will go home, you may be allowed to leave once you have feeling in the numbed area. You will be monitored until the numbness goes away. You may not be able to feel pain in the peripheral nerve block area for about 4 to 18 hours. Until you have full feeling back, you are at risk for falls and injury. Be careful not to bump the numbed body part.

What are the risks of a peripheral nerve block?

You may have bruising, bleeding, pain, or get an infection in the numbed area. You may have a hoarse voice, or blurry vision and a droopy eye. This is usually temporary. You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. If the medicine enters a vein or you get too much, you may get headaches and have muscle twitching. You could also have a seizure or a heart attack. The peripheral nerve block may cause nerve damage, chronic pain, or loss of function of the body part. A peripheral nerve block in your upper body may damage your lungs.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.