Peripheral Nerve Block (Upper Limb)

A peripheral nerve block is a type of regional anaesthetic that involves the injection of local anaesthetics – or other painkillers – near the major nerves that lead to your arms.

They work by numbing the nerves for a short period of time for pain relief.

A nerve block in the arm can be used when you are awake but under sedation, or when you are under general anaesthetic. It can be used in place of general anaesthetic during the operation whilst also being used as a form of pain relief post-operation.

The injection site will vary depending on the operation being performed, but could go in the elbow, forearm, wrist, near the collarbone or armpit, or into the side of the neck (see figure 1).

Figure 1
Peripheral nerve block
Copyright © 2015 EIDO Healthcare Limited

What does the procedure involve?

The anaesthetist in charge will use an ultrasound scanner and a nerve simulator to inform them as to the optimum position for the injection. They will then insert the needle and, once it is in the correct position, inject the anaesthetic. Sometimes the anaesthetist will insert a small tube through the needle before it is removed – this tube will be left in place so that more anaesthetic can be injected if required.


This procedure can be used for most people as it is a safe and effective form of pain relief. It can be used both during the operation and after it.

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – This operation and treatment information has been produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your GP or relevant health professional would give you.

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