What is Axillary Nerve Block?

Axillary nerve block involves the reversible loss of sensation of the axillary nerve area through the application of a local anesthetic.

Effects of Axillary Nerve Block

The axillary nerve block mainly provides temporary pain control.

Candidates for Axillary Nerve Block

It is a well-established practice that nerve blocks are used for diagnostic, therapeutic, prognostic and treatment of chronic pain. Nowadays, axillary nerve blocks are frequently used for emergency and elective upper limb surgery since this method gives reliable anesthesia with less complications.

Your Consultation

A patient can undergo nerve block therapy only after an accurate diagnosis of the source of the pain is made. The patient will have to go through a thorough examination that may include a complete medical history, physical examination, laboratory studies, and a complete psychiatric and psychosomatic assessment.

The Axillary Nerve Block Procedure

Initially, the axillary artery is palpated at its most proximal point in the axilla along the line of the humerus. Then a few milliliters of 1% lignocaine are injected to anesthetize the skin at this point. After that, a tourniquet is applied distal to this area and is inflated to ensure that the local anesthetic tracks up the brachial plexus.

Then after a few minutes, a needle is passed slightly superior to the axillary artery. And paraesthesia is felt on progressing to the depth of the axillary nerve. Aspiration is needed to ensure that the needle is not in the vessel. The local anesthetic is then injected (up to 40 ml of 1% lignocaine with adrenaline). And finally, the cuff is deflated a few minutes later.

Recovery

The nerve blocks may relieve pain from several hours up to several months. In a lot of cases, these blocks are performed in combination with a rehabilitation program and can give the opportunity to proceed with an effective rehabilitation.

Risks

An axillary nerve block can be applied before the correction of fractures distally in the arm. However, the procedure includes possible complications such as neuropraxia, intravascular injection and the dissemination of malignancy. Axillary blocks are not recommended for above the elbow procedures.

FAQs

What is a nerve block?

A nerve block involves the injection of a local anesthetic or a neurolytic agent into or near a peripheral nerve, a sympathetic nerve plexus or a local pain-sensitive trigger point

What is the purpose of an axillary nerve block?

The axillary nerve block is a safe and reliable way of giving anesthesia to the upper extremity. It is beneficial in cases of traumatic injury where application of general anesthesia might be hazardous. The use of a large volume of anesthetic is essential, especially when it is important to block the musculocutaneous or axillary nerve.

Who can be helped by nerve blocks?

Nerve blocks are recommended for those who suffer from neck pain, low back pain, sciatica resulting from herniated discs, lumbar canal stenosis, complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), pain arising from peripheral vascular disease, shingles pain, myofascial pain syndrome and cancer pain.

How does a nerve block work?

A nerve block can alleviate pain by using a local anesthetic to interrupt pain sensory pathways and preventing them from reaching the brain.

When should a nerve block not be performed?

Patients who are on anticoagulant therapy with heparin or coumadin should not undergo a nerve block procedure. These particular medications can increase the risk of bleeding. Also, nerve blocks should not be performed on patients who have an active infection around the area of pain or on those who are allergic to local anesthetics or steroids.