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Peripheral Nerve Block (Lower Limb)

This page will provide you with information about a peripheral nerve block to your leg (lower limb).  For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is a peripheral nerve block?

A peripheral nerve block is when local anaesthetic and other painkillers are injected into the leg’s major muscles. It is a form of regional anaesthetic, providing temporary pain relief by numbing the nerves. A nerve block can be administered in a variety of ways, including: on its own while you are conscious, with sedation, or with a spinal or general anaesthetic. Leg operations are typically carried out under general anaesthetic or a spinal anaesthetic. A nerve block is often offered as an additional form of pain relief alongside the general or spinal anaesthetic. The injection may be given in a number of places, depending on the procedure you are undergoing. These places include behind the thigh or knee, in the ankle or foot, or near the groin area (see figure 1).

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How is the nerve block given?

First, the anaesthetist needs to find the right place to give the injection, and to do this they will often use a nerve simulator and an ultrasound scanner. Once they have found the right area they will insert the needle, check that it is in the correct position, and then deliver the anaesthetic. If you need extended pain relief then the anaesthetist may insert a peripheral nerve catheter, enabling them to deliver anaesthetic on a continuous basis.

Are there any complications?

There are a number of complications associated with a nerve block and these include:

  • The nerve block not working
  • An allergic reaction
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Local anaesthetic toxicity

Summary

For the majority of patients, a nerve block provides effective short-term pain relief following an operation on the leg.

 

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.