Local Anesthesia: One Type of Anesthesia For Procedures

What You Should Know About Local Anesthesia

Definition: Local anesthesia is a type of pain prevention used during minor procedures to numb a small site where pain is likely to occur without changing the patient's awareness.

About Local Anesthesia

Unlike general anesthesia where the entire body is paralyzed and the patient is unconscious, local anesthesia allows the patient to remain awake and alert during a procedure.  This type of anesthesia is typically used for minor procedures that can be completed in a short time and the patient is expected to return home the same day.

During the administration of local anesthesia,  numbing medication is either applied to the skin or injected into the area where the procedure will be performed.  If the medication is injected, this is sometimes done with several small injections.  A few minutes after the injections have been given the area should be completely numb. If the area still has sensation, additional injections or applications may be given to insure total numbness.

When Local Anesthesia Is Used

Local anesthesia is most commonly associated with minor procedures that may be painful but are not serious.

Some examples of when local anesthesia is appropriate: 

  • Dental procedures, such as filling a cavity or procedures where the gums must be numbed
  • Suturing a wound
  • Removing an ingrown toenail
  • Some pediatric hospitals numb the site where an IV will be placed to decrease pain 
  • To numb the skin before a biopsy is performed

More Information: All About Anesthesia

Alternate Spellings: anesthaesia, 

Examples: Before her root canal she received a local anesthetic, numbing the area and preventing her from feeling pain when the tooth was removed.

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