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Regional Anesthesia: Care Instructions


Regional anesthesia uses medicines to block pain from an area of the body, such as an arm or leg or the belly. It's used in many procedures. Examples of some procedures include hand or foot surgeries and total joint replacements of the knee, hip, or shoulder. It may also be used during childbirth.

There are several types of regional anesthesia. They can be given near the spine, near a nerve, or in a vein.

Regional anesthesia can also help relieve pain after surgery. It can reduce your need for other pain medicine.

Serious side effects aren't common. But if nerve damage happens, it can cause long-term numbness, weakness, or pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Follow all instructions from your doctor about how to take care of the area that was numbed.
  • Be careful not to injure the area while it's still numb.
    • If you move the area, move it slowly and carefully.
    • Be careful with hot and cold. Since you won't feel pain, it's easier for damage from heat or cold to happen.
  • If your doctor leaves a small tube in place to help you stay numb after your procedure, follow your doctor's instructions about how to use it and take care of it.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have nausea or vomiting that gets worse or won't stop.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new or worse headache.
  • The medicine is not wearing off by the time the doctor said it should.
  • You have injured the numb area of your body.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.