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Peripheral Nerve Block

What is a peripheral nerve block?

A peripheral nerve block is a medical procedure that involves administration of a dose of local anesthetic, sometimes with a steroid medication, usually into your arm, hand, leg, or ankle region. Peripheral nerve block usually involves a series of three to five injections, repeated at regular (weekly) intervals. This treatment has brought relief to many patients who suffer from pain caused by chronic inflammation such as that which occurs after surgery or after trauma.
Relief is not instantaneous, but most patients report that they receive some benefit 10 to 15 minutes after the procedure. Pain relief may last two to three hours; after this, you can expect the local anesthetic to wear off and your pain may then return. If your doctor has utilized administration of steroid medication, this may provide you with additional pain relief that will begin roughly 36 to 48 hours after the procedure.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

The peripheral nerve block is a well, established medical procedure, and is reimbursed by most insurance companies. Any need for pre-authorization of services or co-payments, depends on your insurance carrier. Our office staff will assist you in obtaining pre-authorization whenever possible

Side Effects

Occasionally patients will feel a recurrence of the normal pain during the administration of the medication. This is viewed as a reassuring sign that the medication is going to the right place, and the sensation usually disappears very quickly. Other possible risks or complications include bleeding, infection, as well as injection of medication into a small blood vessel. These risks or complications, however, are extremely rare and your physician will be continually monitoring your vital signs to guard against these.

Peripheral Nerve Block Procedure:

The peripheral nerve block is a safe medical procedure; but, as with any procedure, it has risks as well as benefits. To minimize the chance of complications, we ask that you follow a few simple guidelines:
Do not eat or drink anything for (6) six hours prior to the procedure.
It is required that you be accompanied to and from Rush University Medical Center or Rush Oak Park Hospital by a responsible adult driver. Most likely you will be offered a small dose of intravenous medication during the procedure which will act to not only decrease anxiety, but provide you some pain relief from the minor discomfort of the procedure itself. This intravenous medication that you receive will impair your driving ability; therefore, it is imperative that you be accompanied by a responsible adult driver.
For the procedure, you will first have an intravenous line will be placed, generally in your hand. We will monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure. Following placement of the monitors we will begin to give you some intravenous medication in order to decrease anxiety, as well as provide you with some pain relief.

You will then be asked to either lie on your side or remain lying on your back.

After cleaning a small patch of your skin, a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to decrease any pain associated with performance of the procedure. Your physician will then administer the local anesthetic (possibly with steroid medication) through a small needle. The procedure itself is usually brief, and lasts less than 10 to 15 minutes. Occasionally, patients will describe a recurrence of their normal pain during administration of the medication. This is viewed as a reassuring sign that the medication is going to the right place, and the sensation should disappear very quickly.

After the peripheral nerve block is performed, we will continue to monitor you for 30 to 40 minutes.  If there are no signs of any problems, you will be ready to leave.

Post-procedure/Follow-up:

These will be provided for you, in further detail, by the recovery room nurse, prior to your discharge from the Ambulatory Surgery Center. These instructions should include; no driving or operating heavy machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. This is recommended secondary to the fact that you have received intravenous medication during a procedure which may impair your ability to perform these tasks.

What should I do if any problems develop after I leave the hospital?

If you have any questions after your procedure, the medical staff of the Pain Management Clinic is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

During normal business hours, you can reach either the nurse or physician by calling (312) 942-6631. After hours, the Pain Fellow on call can be reached by calling the page operator at (312) 942-5000 – Pager #7926.