Anaesthetics, Local Anaesthetic

Local aesthetic is a medication that numbs an area from feeling any pain sensations. These medications have a range of uses, they can be used to treat painful conditions, prevent pain during a procedure or operation, or relieve pain after surgery.

When given a local anaesthetic, unlike with general, you do not lose consciousness. This means that they are generally safer, as they need less preparation and you recover from them quicker.

Dentists, surgeons, anaesthetists, GPs and other doctors usually give local anaesthetics. They can have many forms, as they can be given as creams, injections, gels sprays or ointments.

Local anaesthetics are used to treat slightly painful conditions such as mouth ulcers and throat sores; these can be treated with over the counter gels and sprays. Injections of a local anaesthetic and steroid medication may be used for more severe cases such as long-term joint pain.

Local anaesthetics are mainly used for relatively minor procedures, they may be used alongside a sedative medication to keep you relaxed during the procedure, and these include:

  •          A filling or wisdom tooth removal
  •          A minor skin operation, such as the removal moles, warts and verruca’s
  •          Some types of eyes surgery such as cataract removal
  •          A biopsy- where a sample of tissue is removed for closer examination under a microscope

They are also used during an epidural anaesthetic (see page) or as Peripheral nerve blocks. A Peripheral nerve block is an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the nerves supplying a particular part of the body, such as a hand, arm or leg.

Risks and Side Effects

Local anaesthetics are generally very safe and serious problems are rare. Some people experience the temporary side effects such as dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, twitching muscles and continuing numbness, weakness or pins and needles. These problems will usually pass, but you should tell the healthcare professional in charge of your care if you experience any. In very rare cases, you could develop seizures or cardiac arrest. 

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