Nerve block involves the injection of local anesthetic near the location of a nerve or group of nerves that provide sensation to a specific region of the body, usually one of the limbs. In addition to the injection of local anesthetic, a small catheter may be inserted to provide additional pain relief after the initial injection of medicine has worn off. Depending on the type of medicine administered, you may expect the affected body part to be numb for several hours and up to 24 hours after the surgery, or even longer if a catheter is placed.
Some examples of surgery which might involve the use of a nerve block are: total knee replacements, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions, shoulder surgery as well as many fracture repairs.
At Berkshire Health Systems, the use of ultrasound-guidance has improved the quality, effectiveness and safety of many nerve blocks. Possible side effects include infection, convulsions, persistent weakness, numbness or pain, injury to blood vessels or nerves, or unconsciousness necessitating general anesthesia.