Birth Definitions

Regional Anesthesia Definition


Regional anesthesia is a type of pain relief that numbs a large area of your body by blocking the nerves that carry pain signals from the surgical site to your brain. It’s also called a nerve block or perioperative nerve block. 

Types of Regional Anesthesia

There are several types of regional anesthesia, including: 

  1. Epidural anesthesia: This type of anesthesia numbs the lower half of your body by injecting medication into an area outside the spinal cord in your lower back. 
  2. Spinal anesthesia: This type of anesthesia numbs the lower half of your body by injecting medication into the fluid-filled sac surrounding your spinal cord inside your lower back. 
  3. Peripheral nerve block: This type of anesthesia numbs a specific area or group of nerves by injecting medication near the affected nerves. Peripheral nerve blocks are often used to numb the arm or hand during surgery on the elbow or shoulder. 
  4. Intravenous regional anesthesia (Bier block): This type of anesthesia numbs an extremity, such as an arm or leg, by injecting medication into a vein and applying pressure to the limb. The Bier block is often used for surgeries on the hand or wrist.

Side Effects of Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is effective in relieving pain during childbirth. It as also generally safe for you and your baby, although there are some downsides to it which may include: 

• A drop in blood pressure, which can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy 

• A headache

• Itching 

• Nausea or vomiting 

• Urinary retention, which means you can’t empty your bladder on your own 

If you have an epidural or spinal block, you won’t be able to walk or stand until the numbness wears off. You may also have some trouble going to the bathroom because you can’t feel when you need to urinate.


Regional anesthesia is different from general anesthesia, which numbs your entire body and puts you to sleep. With general anesthesia, you won’t be able to see or hold your baby immediately after birth. Regional anesthesia is also different from local anesthesia as the latter only numbs a small area.

Regional anesthesia has several advantages over general anesthesia. First, it’s less likely to cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Second, it allows you to remain awake and alert during surgery. This can be helpful if your doctor needs to monitor your vital signs or give you instructions during surgery. Finally, regional anesthesia typically wears off more quickly than general anesthesia, so you can resume normal activities sooner.

There are also some disadvantages to regional anesthesia. First, it may not completely eliminate all sensation and movement in the affected area. You may still feel some pressure or tugging during surgery. Second, regional anesthesia doesn’t always work as planned. In some cases, the anesthetic may not numb the entire area or may wear off before surgery is over. Finally, regional anesthesia carries a small risk of complications such as bleeding or infection at the injection site.

This image shows how often the term ‘Regional Anesthesia’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Related Terms

  1. Walking Epidural
  2. Systemic anesthesia
  3. Combined Spinal-Epidural
  4. Anesthesia

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