Looking after your arm and hand after a block

Information for patients


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, sometimes the whole operation can be comfortably done under '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.


  • 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 painfree, 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 operate machinery.
  • Rest your arm on a fire or radiator. It may be hot and you wont feel it.
  • Allow your arm to be in a place where it might get accidentally injured.

As your block wears off you will probably feel “pins and needles” in your fingers. Don’t worry – this is quite normal. 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” or “Interscalene brachial plexus block for shoulder surgery”.

If you have any concerns please contact the ward you were on. You should contact the ward if you notice any of the following:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath.
  • Numbness lasting longer than 24 hours.
  • Swelling of your fingers.
  • Any abnormal colour change of your hand or fingers
  • Pain that is not controlled by your tablets.

How to contact us


01709 424585


01709 424317

Queries following surgery 

Day Surgery Centre

01709 426500

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  • Page last reviewed: 21 January 2023
  • Next review due: 21 January 2024