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Peripheral Nerve Blocks

What is a peripheral nerve block?

A peripheral nerve block is a type of therapeutic nerve block for treating neuropathy (any kind of painful nerve disease or dysfunction). Many pain management specialists prefer to use peripheral nerve blocks early on in a patient’s course of treatment, as the block could help avoid opioid dependency, surgery, or other more invasive treatment options. When this treatment option is used regularly for pain relief, it is oftentimes referred to as Continuous Peripheral Nerve Block (CPNB).

What does a peripheral nerve block treat?

A peripheral nerve block may be used to treat patients in the perioperative phase (before, during, and after surgery). Continuous peripheral nerve blocks are also used in providing pain-relief for patients with advanced cancer.

Peripheral nerve blocks offer some notable advantages over other forms of temporary pain relief. For example, many patients who have a nerve block will wake up from surgery with very little pain. Oftentimes, the effects of the peripheral nerve block last into the next day, prolonging the pain-free post-op period. This makes it easier to start rehab the next day. Lastly, patients who have a peripheral nerve block typically have a less powerful anesthetic, which reduces side effects.

How is a peripheral nerve block performed?

First, the anesthesiologist will provide you with a sedative to reduce any anxiety or stress you may have about surgery. Next, the skin is cleaned and an ultrasound is performed to precisely locate the nerves that need to be blocked. A local anesthetic is injected, and after 10 to 30 minutes the limb will become numb. 

How effective are peripheral nerve blocks for pain relief?

As far as short-term pain relief is concerned, peripheral nerve blocks are quite effective. However, peripheral nerve blocks are not an option for long-term chronic pain relief.

What risks are associated with peripheral nerve blocks?

Peripheral nerve block side effects are typically minor. Common side effects include weakness, numbness, tingling, and bruising at the injection site. Permanent nerve damage is very rare.

Is a peripheral nerve block right for me?

Depending on the type of surgery you have, your surgeon may recommend a peripheral nerve block. These blocks are common for:

  • Surgeries of the shoulder or upper-arm
  • Knee replacements and reconstructions
  • Foot and ankle surgeries
  • Other surgical procedures

For more information about peripheral nerve blocks – or to schedule an appointment with a pain management specialist – contact Pain Management Associates at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute today. Pain management services offered in Mesa, AZ.

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