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Local anaesthetic

What is a local anaesthetic?

A local anaesthetic is a drug that is injected into the tissues to make them numb.

Local anaesthetics temporarily stop nerves working so that you do not feel pain. The simplest form of local anaesthesia is to inject anaesthetic just around the area where the operation is going to take place. It is also possible to numb all the nerves to an arm or a leg (called a nerve block).

Are there any alternatives to a local anaesthetic?

If you are concerned about being awake during the operation, it may be possible for it to be performed under a general anaesthetic. Other forms of anaesthesia may be possible, such as an epidural or nerve block.

What complications can happen?

  • Not enough pain relief
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Absorption into the bloodstream


A local anaesthetic can be used for most people, usually giving a safe and effective form of pain relief during and after an operation or procedure.


Author: Dr Iain Moppett DM MRCP FRCA

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Copyright © 2017 EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre.

The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace any advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Issued June 2017 | Expires end of May 2018

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