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Peripheral Nerve Block - Upper Limb

The information on this page explains what a peripheral nerve block to the arm entails. Should you require additional information please contact the relevant health care professional.

A brief description of a peripheral nerve block

A peripheral upper limb nerve block is a form of regional anaesthetic whereby local anaesthetic and other painkillers are injected close to main nerves in the arm. The injection numbs the arm to relieve any pain.

A patient can receive a nerve block while they are awake, with sedation, or with general anaesthetic. For operations on the upper limbs, patients may be given a nerve block as a replacement to general anaesthetic. The nerve block is also used for pain relief following an operation.

The area where the injection will be given will depend on the type of procedure. There are six areas where the injection can be administered: near your armpit or collarbone, in your wrist, elbow or forearm, or at the side of your neck.


Figure 1
Peripheral nerve block

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What happens during the procedure?

With the aid of an ultrasound scanner and a nerve stimulator your anaesthetist is able to find the best place to administer the anaesthetic. This is done via a small needle inserted into the arm. Then a small tube is placed through the needle allowing the anaesthetist to administer additional anaesthetic if required.

Problems that may occur

Failure of the nerve block
Nerve area damage
Blood loss
Pneumothorax
Drooping of the eyelid on the side of the block
Crackly voice
Allergic reaction
Toxicity (caused by anaesthetic)

Summary

For the majority of patients a peripheral upper limb nerve block reduces the need for a general anaesthetic and allows for safe and effective pain relief throughout an operation. It also reduces the pain experienced after the operation.

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.

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