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Peripheral Nerve Blocks in Children: Care Instructions


A peripheral nerve block is a way to block pain from a part of the body, such as an arm or a leg. It's used for procedures that are done on one specific area of the body. It can also help relieve pain after a procedure. This can reduce the need for other pain medicines. Sometimes a nerve block may be used to relieve pain from an injury, such as a rib fracture.

Nerve blocks are done by injecting numbing medicine into the area near a nerve or group of nerves. There are different types of peripheral nerve blocks. The type that is used depends on the area of the body that needs to be numbed.

Problems after a nerve block are rare. There's a small risk of nerve damage, infection, or bleeding. Rarely, the medicines used can affect the heart.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's 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 your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow all instructions from your child's doctor about how to take care of the area that was numbed.
  • Make sure your child doesn't injure the area while it's still numb.
    • Remind them that if they move the area, to move it slowly and carefully.
    • Be careful with hot and cold. Since your child won't feel pain, it's easier for damage from heat or cold to happen.

If your child had sedation or general anesthesia

  • Have your child rest when they feel tired. A baby may sleep longer between feedings. Getting enough sleep will help your child recover.
  • For the first few hours after sedation, follow your doctor's instructions about what your child can eat or drink. For a baby, your doctor will tell you if you need to change anything about your breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
  • After a few hours, allow your child to eat and drink a normal diet, unless your doctor has given you special instructions. If your child's stomach is upset, try clear liquids and foods that are low in fat and fibre. These include applesauce, baked chicken, crackers, and yogurt. If your baby has started to eat solid foods, your doctor will tell you what and when to feed your baby after sedation.
  • Have your child rest until the effects of the medicine wear off.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Noisy breathing.
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
  • Your baby is limp and floppy like a rag doll.
  • Your child is very sleepy and is hard to wake up.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

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

  • Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • The medicine isn't wearing off by the time the doctor said it should.
  • Your child has injured the numb area of their body.
  • Your baby can't stop crying.
  • Your baby won't eat within several hours after leaving the hospital.

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

  • Your child does 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.