Peripheral Nerve Block (Upper Limb)

This document will give you information about a peripheral nerve block to your arm (upper limb). If you have any questions, you should ask your consultant.

What are nerve blocks?

A peripheral nerve block is a regional anaesthetic. It involves injecting local anaesthetics and other painkillers near the major nerves to your arm to temporarily numb them. It has two main effects:

  • Blocking the nerves responsible for pain and touch
  • Numbing the nerves supplying your muscles, making it difficult to move your arm

A nerve block for your arm can be used:

  • On its own while you are awake
  • With sedation
  • With a general anaesthetic.
  • As a general anaesthetic for the operation
  • As pain relief after the operation

Depending where on your body your operation will be, the injection may be given in several places. This includes:

  • In the side of your neck
  • Near your collarbone (see figure 1)
  • Near your armpit
  • In your elbow
  • In your forearm or wrist

What happens during a nerve block procedure?

Before receiving a nerve block, your anaesthetist may offer you a sedative to help you relax. Your anaesthetist will need guidance to make sure they are able to inject the anaesthetic into the correct location. An ultrasound scanner and nerve stimulator will help them do this. Your anaesthetist will then inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. The will make inserting the needle feel less uncomfortable. Once certain the needle has been inserted in the right position they will inject anaesthetic through it. Sometimes your anaesthetist may also insert a small tube through the needle before they remove it. The tube will be left in place so they are able to inject more anaesthetic.

Are there any potential complications with this surgery?

Most surgical procedures carry some level of risk or possible complication. These will be discussed with you by your consultant or pre-assessment nurse prior to your procedure.


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

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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