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.

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.