by Krisha McCoy, MS
Regional anesthesia is a type of anesthesia. It blocks pain to a part of the body without causing sleep.
Reasons for Procedure
Regional anesthesia is used to make the body numb for surgery. It may be chosen:
This type of anesthesia can allow people to move around sooner after surgery. It may also provide longer-term pain relief.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems, like:
The risk of problems may be increased with:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
You may talk to a specialist before surgery. They will ask about overall health or previous reactions to anesthesia.
Leading up to your procedure:
Description of Procedure
Medicine may be given to help calm you. The area will be cleaned with a special liquid. A medicine may be applied to the skin or injected into the area. It will numb the area before the regional anesthesia is put in.
The doctor will locate the nerve cluster. The needle will be inserted through the skin to the nerves. The medicine will be released into the nerve. It will affect the nerve and area of the body that nerve controls; for example:
Sensation and motion of the area will slowly return. It can take a few hours or longer before the area is back to normal.
The pain will return in a few hours. It may take up to 2 weeks before pain is eased. Other medicine and treatment can help to ease pain during recovery.
How Long Will It Take?
It takes several minutes or longer to do the injection. Effects often last for 2 to 6 hours.
Will It Hurt?
Slight pain or tingling may be felt with the injection.
Numbness can increase risk for falls or other accidents. Some activity, such as driving, will need to be avoided.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American Society of Anesthesiologists
Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society
Anesthesia basics. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
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Updated September 2015. Accessed February 13, 2020.
Regional anesthesia for surgery. American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine website. Available at: https://www.asra.com/page/41/regional-anesthesia-for-surgery. Accessed February 13, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD