UC San Diego Health
menu icon
search iconSearch
Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

Understanding Peripheral Nerve Blocks (PNBs)

Regional anesthesia is a kind of medicine. It numbs a part of your body. Peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs) are a type of regional anesthesia. To do the block, a healthcare provider injects numbing medicine into a certain nerve or bundle of nerves. The area below the nerves is then numbed for a time.

Why PNBs are done

PNBs are most often used to stop pain during surgery and for some time after. They can be used for your arms, hands, legs, or feet. They may also be used for your neck, face, or groin. PNBs ease pain longer than local anesthesia. They can also be used to numb smaller parts of the body than other types of regional anesthesia.

How PNBs are done

  • An IV (intravenous) line may be put into a vein in your arm or hand. This line gives fluids and medicines.

  • A healthcare provider closely watches your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate during the procedure.

  • You may be given medicine to help you relax and make you sleepy.

  • The healthcare provider finds the nerves to be numbed. He or she may do this with the help of ultrasound or nerve stimulation. The place of the shot is chosen.

  • The provider inserts a needle with the medicine (anesthetic) at the chosen site. He or she injects the medicine.

  • The targeted part of your body becomes numb within 10 to 30 minutes. The area stays numb throughout the procedure.

After the procedure is done, the numbness slowly wears off. It may take from 6 to 30 hours, depending on the type of medicine used.

Risks of PNBs

Risks of PNBs are:

  • Bruising at the place of the shot

  • Nerve injury

  • Reaction to the anesthetic

  • Injury to the numbed part of the body

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jimmy Moe MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Contact Our Health Professionals
Follow Us