Looking after your hand and arm after a block

Patient Information

What is a block?
A local anaesthetic block can be helpful to relieve the pain after some operations on the arm or hand. Sometimes it is combined with a general anaesthetic. Often the whole operation can be comfortably done under a block alone. In either case it is important to look after your arm after the operation because it may remain numb and weak for up to 24 hours. If you have had a block, please observe the following Dos and Don’ts until the numbness has worn off. Local anaesthetic blocks are quite safe and complications are rare. For more detailed information about upper limb blocks and their possible complications, please read the leaflets

  • Brachial Plexus Block for elbow, forearm, wrist and hand surgery
  • Interscalene Brachial Plexus Block for shoulder surgery
  • Keep your arm in a sling for support and protection until the numbness wears off
  • Take your painkillers regularly as prescribed even though your arm is numb and pain free otherwise you will quickly become uncomfortable once the block wears off
  • Be careful with hot drinks and food
  • Be careful around young children or pets who may not understand your arm is numb and could accidentally damage it.


  • Attempt to drive or operative machinery.
  • Rest your arm on a fire or radiator. It may be hot and you won’t feel it.
  • Allow your arm to be in a place where it might get accidentally injured e.g. in kitchen near sharp or hot items.
  • As your block wears off, you will probably feel pins and needles in your fingers. Don’t worry, this is quite normal.