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Highlands Ranch (720) 516-4087


Peripheral Nerve Block

This handout explains peripheral nerve block, which is performed the day of surgery to help control pain after surgery. 

What is a peripheral nerve block? 

A peripheral nerve block is a way to treat pain. We use local anesthetic (numbing medicine) to block feelings of pain from a specific area of the body, such as your foot or ankle. Our anesthesia team will perform your block on the day of surgery, prior to heading back to the operating room.

How is it done? 

Prior to surgery, a local anesthetic is injected near a nerve to numb the area of your body you had surgery on, such as your foot or ankle. Anesthesia will use ultrasound guidance to ensure the proper placement of the anesthetic.

What can I expect? 

When a nerve block injection is first given: 

  • Part of your body, such as your foot or ankle, will feel numb. 
  • You will not be able to feel hot or cold in that area. 
  • It will be hard to ft or move your leg. 
  • You may feel “pins and needles” in the area. 
  • This means that the nerve block is working. 

How long will the nerve block last? 

Most nerve block injections numb the area for 12 to 24 hours. Some may last up to 36 hours. 

As the nerve block begins to wear off, you will feel start to feel some discomfort. 


Will I still have pain?

A nerve block helps reduce pain, but it will not fully numb the area. Plan to use both medicine and non-medicine methods to help control your pain as you recover from your surgery. Non-medicine methods include: 

  • Resting and relaxing; do not try to do too much within the first 72 hours after surgery
  • Elevation of operative foot/ankle
  • Icing behind the knee of the operative foot/ankle
  • Distracting yourself by thinking about other things, watching TV, or reading a book

Realistic goals for pain control are to prevent severe pain and keep pain at a lower level. Most people have mild to moderate pain with activity while they are recovering from surgery. 

When should I plan to take pain medicine after surgery? 

Ideally, we want you to start taking your prescribed pain medication as soon as the numbness goes away and you start to feel a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation.  This means the nerve block is wearing off. 
Do not wait until you regain all feeling before taking a dose of pain medicine. Waiting may make it harder to control your pain. We want to try and stay ahead of the pain!

Please take the pain medication as prescribed along with the Tylenol to help with pain management. We would also like for you to take Gabapentin as prescribed at night to help with nerve related pain.

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