A nerve block helps reduce pain after surgery by targeting the specific area affected by your procedure. Your anesthesiologist can give a single injection nerve block or provide pain relief with a continuous nerve block. Your anesthesiologist and surgeon will recommend the best option for you, based on your procedure and medical history.
A single injection nerve block offers pain relief for 6-24 hours after surgery. The numbing medication injected will surround the nerves responsible for sensation and movement of the particular area of surgery. By blocking pain signals from the nerves to the brain, this medication may make the affected surgical area feel numb and weak. As the nerve block gradually wears off, you will begin to experience some tingling and return of motion and sensation.
After receiving a nerve block, it’s important to be careful with the numb area of your body. You will not be able to feel any sensation in the area including pain, heat, or cold. Protect yourself against injury with the following tips:
Nerve blocks are an effective way to help reduce pain after surgery and allow your body to heal and recover. Where pain pills affect the entire body, a nerve block targets only the area where you had surgery.
This targeted treatment offers many benefits, including:
Contact your anesthesiologist immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Note: If this happens, turn your pain pump off and call immediately.
A continuous nerve block delivers numbing medicine to the affected area of your body through a catheter (flexible tube) and a pump. The pain pump sends medicine at regular times to block the nerves’ ability to send pain signals to the brain as you recover from your procedure. You may experience numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness in the affected area.
Recovering from surgery can be a long process. Your nerve block will help reduce pain and allow your body to heal. Be sure to take proper care of the nerve block catheter and pump, by following these guidelines:
A small amount of dark fluid around the catheter is normal. Clear fluid around the catheter and occasional air bubbles are also common.
Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will discuss when you can remove the catheter attached to the pain pump. Typically, the catheter can be removed once the pain pump is empty, which takes less than seven days. To avoid infection, be sure to remove the catheter within 12 hours of the pain pump becoming empty.
When it’s time to remove your catheter:
Nerve blocks are a common way to reduce pain after surgery, and recent advances have made them even safer and more effective. As with any medicine, there are associated risks and complications. These are very rare, but may include:
Talk to your surgeon and anesthesiologist about any questions you may have. They can help guide you to the solution that is best for you.