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Peripheral nerve block (lower limb)

2-minute read

This page will give you information about a peripheral nerve block to your leg (lower limb). If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is a peripheral nerve block?

A peripheral nerve block is a type of regional anaesthetic that involves injecting local anaesthetics and other painkillers near the major nerves to your leg. A nerve block works by temporarily numbing your nerves to give pain relief.

A nerve block for your leg can be used on its own while you are awake, with sedation, or with a spinal anaesthetic or general anaesthetic.

Illustration showing a peripheral nerve block.
A peripheral nerve block.

Operations on lower limbs are usually performed under a general anaesthetic or spinal anaesthetic. A nerve block is usually used in addition to give pain relief afterwards. Depending on the operation, the injection may be given behind your thigh or knee, in your ankle or foot, or near your groin.

What does the procedure involve?

Your anaesthetist will usually use an ultrasound scanner and nerve stimulator to help guide them where to inject the anaesthetic.

Your anaesthetist will insert the needle and when they are certain that it is in the right position they will inject anaesthetic through it. Sometimes your anaesthetist may insert a small tube through the needle before they remove it, leaving the tube in place so they can inject more anaesthetic.

What complications can happen?

  • failure of the nerve block
  • allergic reaction
  • bleeding
  • nerve damage
  • local anaesthetic toxicity

Summary

A peripheral lower limb nerve block can be used for most people, usually giving a safe and effective form of pain relief both during and after the operation.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Last reviewed: September 2018

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