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 is a peripheral nerve block and why would I need one?

A peripheral upper limb nerve block can be used for most people. It usually provides safe and effective pain relief both during and after an operation. A peripheral nerve block is a type of regional anaesthetic. It involves injecting local anaesthetics and other painkillers near the major nerves to your arm. This will temporarily numb the sensory nerves responsible for pain and touch. A nerve block for your arm can be used on its own while you are awake, with sedation, or with a general anaesthetic. Depending on the type of operation, the injection may be given in the side of your neck, or near your collarbone or armpit, or in your elbow, forearm or wrist (see figure 1).

What happens in the procedure?

If appropriate, your anaesthetist may offer you a sedative. This will help you relax before the procedure. Your anaesthetist will usually use an ultrasound scanner and nerve stimulator around the area of the nerve block. This will guide them to inject the anaesthetic in the correct location. Your anaesthetist will then inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area, so performing the nerve block will cause you less discomfort. Once the needle is inserted in the right position, your anaesthetist 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 can inject more anaesthetic.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.


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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