The Procedure: What to Expect During a Brachial Plexus Block Injection

Before undergoing a procedure like a brachial plexus block injection, it can be helpful to understand exactly what the process entails. This article is intended to provide you with an overview of what to expect during a brachial plexus block injection.

From preparation to post-procedure recommendations, this guide is designed to answer any questions you have before your injection. We’ll start by briefly discussing the purpose of the injection and then dive into the details of what happens during the procedure.

At the end of this article, you’ll better understand the brachial plexus block process and feel more confident in your decision to seek out this treatment option. So let’s get started!

What Is a Brachial Plexus Block Injection?

When facing pain or other issues in your shoulder, arm, or hand, a brachial plexus block injection may be an option for treatment. A brachial plexus block injection is a minimally invasive procedure that helps manage pain related to nerve damage caused by conditions such as spinal stenosis, herniated disks, or tendonitis.

The procedure is performed by an anesthesiologist in an outpatient setting and involves the injection of a local anesthetic and steroid into the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus—a network of nerves located near your neck—are responsible for sending signals to your arms and hands from the spinal cord.

By injecting medication into this area, the nerves can be numbed to help reduce your pain levels. It is important to note that while a brachial plexus block injection may help relieve some of the pain you are experiencing, it does not necessarily cure the underlying condition that’s causing it. Rather, it provides short-term relief while working with healthcare experts on long-term solutions.

What Is Involved in the Procedure?

Once you have agreed to the treatment and the doctor has reviewed your medical history, it’s time to prepare for the procedure. You’ll be asked to lie on your back and then relax as the anesthesiologist injects a local anesthetic to numb the area.

After that, they insert a small needle near the shoulder to perform the block. It is important that you stay still while they perform this step, as movement can make it difficult for them to find the right spot.

Once they have inserted the needle, they inject a contrast dye into it to track where it goes. This is important for accuracy during this procedure as it helps them identify where the nerve damage is located so that they can target it more precisely during the injection.

The needle is then removed, and a small catheter is inserted in its place, which will be used for administering medications or therapies as needed. The entire procedure typically takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, and you may experience some soreness afterward, but this should subside quickly.

A doctor giving a brachial plexus block injection

How to Prepare for a Brachial Plexus Block Injection

The best way to prepare for a brachial plexus block injection is to be informed and aware of the procedure. Knowledge is key! You should understand what it is, the steps involved, and any risks or side effects so that you can discuss them with your doctor.

Knowing ahead of time what to expect can help you feel more in control and make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. When you meet with your doctor or care provider before the procedure, they will give you instructions on preparing. Here are some general steps:

  • Let your doctor know if you’re taking any medications, including antibiotics and steroids.
  • Ask about any pre-procedure tests that may be needed.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated before the injection.
  • If needed, have someone drive you home after the procedure.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that will allow access to the injection site.
  • Talk to your doctor about any food or drinks you should avoid before the injection.
  • Take care of yourself and get plenty of rest leading up to the procedure so your body can rest and heal afterward.
  • Don’t forget to bring a list of questions for your doctor if needed!

Potential Side Effects and Risks of a Brachial Plexus Block Injection

Before you go through with the Brachial Plexus Block Injection, it’s important to understand the risks and side effects that you may experience.

Pain Relief

First and foremost, there is a risk of experiencing only temporary pain relief. While the injection should provide several weeks of relief, it is not a permanent solution, and pain will ultimately return, regardless of if it’s in the same intensity and frequency as before.


Second, you may experience an infection due to the injection. As with any procedure involving needles or other foreign objects being inserted into your body, there’s always a risk that bacteria could enter your bloodstream and cause an infection. Though uncommon, proper precautions should be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Nerve Damage

Finally, there is a slight risk of serious nerve damage if the nerve roots are harmed when giving the injection or during the needle insertion process itself. Your specialist should know your medical history to prevent any risks associated with brachial plexus block injections.

When to Expect Results From a Brachial Plexus Block Injection

So you know what to expect during the procedure, but when can you expect to see results? Most patients report significant pain relief within the first 24-36 hours following the injection, although some may take up to a week before they experience any relief.

It’s also possible to get minor relief that quickly recedes since some of the injected anesthetic can wear off over time. If you got a brachial plexus block injection, keep track of your pain levels for a few days after and report any changes in your symptoms—especially if they’re negative—to your doctor.

If the brachial plexus block doesn’t provide lasting relief after several injections, your doctor may recommend other treatments like physical therapy or surgery.

Contact Carolina Spine and Pain Centers

If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of a brachial plexus block injection, contact the team of doctors and specialists at Carolina Spine and Pain Centers. Our staff has years of experience performing this procedure, so you can trust that it will be done safely and with minimal discomfort.

Don’t hesitate to call us at 864-535-0144 for more information about the procedure or to schedule an appointment. We are always available for any questions or concerns before, during, or after your treatment.

The Carolina Spine and Pain Centers professionals understand that your health is of utmost importance. We prioritize patient safety above all else and have comprehensive protocols to ensure your comfort while you are under our care.