Anesthesia means a loss of feeling or inability to feel pain. Local anesthesia is a method of pain prevention in a small area of the body. The medication used is commonly called numbing medication.
Anyone who undergoes a painful procedure in a relatively accessible part of the body may be a candidate for local anesthesia. This type of anesthesia is usually used for minor procedures. Examples are getting sutures for a cut or having a tooth pulled. Local anesthesia can also be used for minor surgery, such as a hernia repair.
Local numbing medication is injected into the skin or other tissues at the site of the procedure. The injection is usually near the surface, but may be deeper in some cases. The site of the procedure is first cleaned with an antibacterial cleanser. The medication used to numb the area is then injected using a very small needle.
The medication may cause a stinging or burning sensation at first. This discomfort lasts for just a few seconds. It takes a few minutes for the medication to have its full effect. The person should be unable to feel pain in the treated area. A pressure sensation may be felt when the area is cut or poked with needles, but pain should be absent. If pain is felt, the person should tell the healthcare professional so that more medication can be injected to control pain.
If the person is anxious, sedative medication can be given in pill form or through an intravenous line (IV) inserted into the vein of the arm or hand. This medication can help the person relax. The numbing medication generally wears off within an hour of the procedure.
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Anesthesia, 1990, Miller et al.