What has gone wrong?
There are many different things that could have gone wrong to require you to have a peripheral nerve block. Either the nerves to an area of the body or the area itself has been damaged. This is usually due to injury or disease. You now have pain in this area.
The aim of the procedure is to reduce the pain messages coming from the nerves around the painful area. It is hoped this will produce long lasting relief from your pain.
Your pain should be reduced and you should be able to move around more easily. It should then be easier for you to perform your daily activities. You should need fewer painkilling tablets.
Are there any alternatives?
By the time that you consider having a peripheral nerve block you should have already tried other more simple treatments. These include rest, both painkilling and anti-inflammatory tablets, and physiotherapy.
You may also have tried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine for your pain. This works by sending soothing pulses across the surface of the skin and along the nerve fibres. The pulses prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. They also stimulate your body to produce higher levels of its own natural painkillers, called endorphins.
What if you do nothing?
If you do nothing there are several things that may happen:
Who should have it done?
The following patients should have the procedure done:
Who should not have it done?
Each patient has the final decision on whether to proceed or not. If you are unhappy about the procedure for any reason you should not continue.
There are specific medical situations when a peripheral nerve block should not be done and they are as follows:
When a patient is on medication (drugs) that prevents blood from clotting, such as warfarin. This would lead to more bleeding than normal. It may be possible to stop the medication a few days before the procedure. This will need to be discussed with your doctor
When a patient is suffering from an illness that prevents blood from clotting, such as haemophilia. This would also lead to more bleeding than normal
When there is infection of the skin over the site where the needle needs to be put in. This could lead to infection in the deeper tissues
Author: Dr Sean White FRCA. Consultant in pain and anaesthesia.
© Dumas Ltd 2006