As recently as 20 years ago, people with chronic pain were too often dismissively
told that their problem was "in their heads" or that they were
hypochondriacs. But in the last decade, a handful of dedicated researchers
learned that chronic pain is not simply a symptom of something else -- such as
anxiety, depression, or a need for
attention -- but a disease in its own right, one that can alter a person's
emotional, professional, and family life in profound and debilitating ways.
Other medicines may be used along with anesthesia, such as ones to help you relax or to reverse the effects of anesthesia.
What are the types of anesthesia?
Local anesthesia numbs a small part of the body for minor procedures. For example, you may get a shot of medicine directly into the surgical area to block pain. You may stay awake during the procedure.
Regional anesthesia blocks pain to a larger part of your body. You may also get medicine to help
you relax or sleep. Types of regional anesthesia include:
Peripheral nerve blocks. This is
a shot of anesthetic to block pain
around a specific nerve or group of nerves. Blocks are often used
for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face.
and spinal anesthesia. This is a shot of anesthetic near the spinal cord and
the nerves that connect to it. It blocks pain from an entire region of the
body, such as the belly, hips, or legs.
General anesthesia affects your brain and the rest of your body. You may get anesthesia through a vein (intravenously, or IV), or you
may breathe it in. With this kind, you're unaware and don't feel pain during the surgery. You may also forget the surgery and the time right after it.
What determines the type of anesthesia used?
The type of anesthesia used depends on several things:
Your past and current health. This includes other surgeries you have had and the health problems you
have, such as
heart disease or
diabetes. Tell your doctor if you or any
family members have had an allergic reaction to anesthetics or
The type of surgery. For example, you may need general anesthesia to ensure your comfort and safety during certain types of surgery.
Your doctor or nurse may prefer one type of anesthesia over
another for your surgery. In some cases, your doctor or nurse may let you
choose which type to have. Sometimes, such as in an emergency, you don't get
What are the risks and complications of anesthesia?
Major side effects and other problems of anesthesia aren't
common, especially in people who are in good health. But all anesthesia
has some risk.
For example, high doses of local and regional anesthetic can go into the rest of the body and affect your breathing, heartbeat, or blood
pressure. Some people get headaches after spinal anesthesia.