Peripheral nerve block

A “nerve block” is a technique of injecting numbing medicine (also called local anesthetic) around a group of nerves.  This causes a specific area of the body to be numb. Nerve blocks have become an important therapy in the treatment of certain types of acute and chronic pain, particularly where management with medications is unsuccessful. With nerve blocks, medication consisting of an anesthetic and a steroid is injected directly onto a nerve to reduce inflammation and block the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

How long is the peripheral nerve block procedure?

The actual injection takes from 10 to 30 minutes.

What is actually injected?

The injection consists of a local anesthetic. On occasion, epinephrine, clonidine or a steroid medication may be added to prolong the effects of the peripheral nerve block.

Will the injection hurt? 

Sedation is often given during the nerve block procedure to help decrease any discomfort  that you may feel.

Will I be “put out” for the peripheral nerve block procedure? 

You may be given intravenous sedation or general anesthesia during the actual procedure (or occasionally remain awake).  In any case, you will not see or feel the  actual procedure.  Your  anesthesia provider will discuss the options with you prior to surgery to determine the best plan.

How is the peripheral nerve block performed?

The patients are monitored with EKG, blood pressure cuff and an oxygen-monitoring device. The peripheral nerve block is performed under sterile conditions. The skin on neck, back or extremity is cleaned with antiseptic solution and the skin is then numbed with a local anesthetic. X-ray guidance is then used to guide the needle or needles into the proper position. Once in place, a test dose of dye is used to confirm that the injected medication will spread in an appropriate area. If the dye spread is acceptable, the injection takes place gradually over several minutes. The physician will use the X-ray to evaluate the spread of the injected medication. When a sufficient area is covered, the injection will be over. When done, the needle is removed and a bandage is applied.\

What should I expect after the peripheral nerve block?

Immediately after the injection, you may feel your arm or leg getting warm or feeling a bit different. In addition, you may notice that your pain may be gone or quite less.

What should I do after the peripheral nerve block procedure?

You should have a ride home. We advise the patients to take it easy for a day or so after the procedure. Perform the activities that you can tolerate. Some of the patients may go for immediate physical therapy.  Patients should not drive for 24 hours after IV sedation.


Dr. Spiel’s unique clinical background has enabled him to view the practice of interventional pain through a broader perspective...

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A fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Pflum earned his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, Washington, DC ...

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