An Interscalene Block involves a small injection into your neck which numbs your arm. You will usually already be under anaesthetic before this is done, although sometimes it is done whilst you are awake. A local anaesthetic is used so you don’t feel the injection and it only takes a few minutes to do.
The block usually numbs your whole arm and also makes it unusable until the block wears off. This can take 12 hours.
It is essential that you take your painkillers before the block has completely worn away, so that you continue to have pain relief.
You should take care not be come in contact with extremely hot or cold items because you will not be able to protect yourself from injuries of extremes of temperature. You should wear a sling while your arm is numb to protect over extension of your shoulder or elbow.
This procedure is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and the possibility of complications. The most common side effect is pain at the site of injection, which is temporary.
Other risks involve bleeding, infections, spinal block and injection into blood vessels and surrounding nerves. Fortunately, the serious side effects and complications are uncommon.
Very rare complications are epidural or subarachnoid injection, vertebral artery injections resulting in convulsions(seizures), and rarely pneumothorax (collapse of lung) these complications are lessened by placement of block with use of a nerve stimulator.