Wide Awake Hand and Wrist Surgery with Local Anesthesia

Wide Awake Hand and Wrist Surgery with Local Anesthesia


There are many hand and wrist surgeries that can be done using local anesthesia. Numbing medicines are injected into the hand or wrist before the surgery is done. Review this handout to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of having local anesthesia for your surgery. Local anesthesia may be used for surgery in the hospital or the hand clinic.


What you can expect

  • Local anesthesia will not require you to have testing before surgery as you would if your were being sedated or having general anesthesia.
  • You can continue to take your usual medicines the day of your surgery.
  • You will be awake, and you will not have an IV placed into your vein.
  • You will be given shots or injections of medicine into your hand or wrist. The medicine can take 5 to 10 minutes to numb the area.
  • You may feel pressure as your hand or wrist is being worked on, but you should not feel any pain.
  • Your hand or wrist will be covered by towels called drapes, so you will not be able to see the surgery being done.
  • You will hear staff talking and the sounds of the machines being used in surgery.
  • Your health care provider may talk with you about the care of your hand or wrist after surgery. You also may be asked questions during the surgery.



  • There is less time in recovery since you will be wide awake.
  • You may have pain relief for some time after surgery.
  • Side effects from injected medicine are limited and rare.



  • You will feel pressure when the surgery is being done, and you will hear the sounds around you.
  • You may have some pain with the first numbing shots before your surgery.
  • More complex surgeries cannot be done with local anesthesia.


© 2017 - March 30, 2020, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or healthcare team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: health-info@osu.edu.