Should I get a Femoral Nerve Block before Quadriceps Tendon Surgery?

When the time comes to have your quad tendon surgery repair, you will be advised by the anesthesiologist with the decision of wanting a nerve block or opting out. I remember when I was all prepped for my first surgery back in 2007 and the anesthesiologist came into the room and discussed with me his role and on the procedure that was going to take place. After talking for a few minutes, the topic of whether I wanted to have a nerve block or not was the final question from him. I had remembered something my mother had mentioned about the possibility of having bad side effects from a nerve block.

The anesthesiologist mentioned that side effects could happen but are very rare now a days. “Femoral nerve blocks are so commonly used in surgery this day and age, that very little goes wrong, but there is always that slight chance” he mentioned. Not wanting to take the risk of that ‘slight chance’, I made the decision to decline the nerve block and all I can say now is, what an extremely bad decision that was!!!

Upon awakening after surgery when the anesthesia wearing off, all I can remember was how excruciating the pain was in my right leg. It felt like someone was stabbing me repeatedly in the leg with a knife. In all of my life I have never experienced such intense pain as I did that morning in the recovery room.

My mom was telling the nurse to give me something to ease the pain, but nothing seemed to work. The nurse gave me several different highly-potent pain killers, but there was no change in the pain level. Until sometime later, after having been giving some muscle relaxers, I was finally able to catch my breath. Even the initial injury itself wasn’t this painful. Probably since it was masked by adrenaline, fear and shock. Looking back now I also believe that having had to wait over a week to have surgery retracted the tendon more making it more painful after reattachment.

Fast forward six years, when I was in the same situation with having the same chat with the anesthesiologist, I made very damn sure to insist to him that I wanted the nerve block. However since both legs where damaged goods this time around, I was only able to get the nerve block on one leg. At first I was like “oh here we go again” and I made the decision (a good one this time) to get the block done on my left leg which was a complete-fully ruptured quad. The nerve block lasted all day and night and kept my left leg numb until the following evening. The numbness wore off very gradually and while that was happening I was sure to be on my cocktail of painkillers and muscle relaxers.

So my advice to you on the day of the surgery after you have changed, been advised by the nurse, IV is in place, the time will come where the anesthesiologist will sit down and will ask you if you would like to have a nerve block to control the pain after you wake from surgery. Your answer should be ‘damn fricken straight I want a nerve block!!! DO IT!!! I cannot stress this enough.

The pain after the first surgery to fix my right quad tendon in 2007 felt ten times worse than when I injured it on the lake jet skiing. When you think about the surgical procedure they have to perform to repair your leg(s) it makes sense of why it’s so painful afterwards. The surgeon has to cut open your leg at the kneecap and pull the quad tendon and re-attach it to the knee cap. Doesn’t sound so appealing does it? Below is the Nerve Block information sheet I was given before my surgery.

When I was getting prepped for my bilateral surgery and I was talking with the anesthesiologist, I made it a point to let him know that I wanted the nerve block. However, this time around I had two legs to deal with in terms of surgery and pain. Do I get it in the right leg or the left? I opted for the left since it was a full tear and I figured if the right leg has been through it before it couldn’t be more painful the second time around LOL.

What is so interesting is how very different the pain was this time around with my bilateral quadriceps tendon ruptures. When I woke up I don’t recall feeling any pain at all. I mean I knew the left leg was supposed to be pain free from the nerve block and it was. I was numb from my hip all the way down to my calf if I remember correctly. The nerve block as described to me was supposed to last between 10-14 hours, but actually it seemed to last much longer then that. I had surgery early morning and my left leg was numb and pain free until the following morning.

Now just because you are given a nerve block doesn’t mean you will be pain free. Once the nerve block subsides the pain will slowly start to set in. However, the pain is managed with the healthy cocktail of pain medications that you will be prescribed from your doc and you will be taking the medication before the nerve block wears off.


About the author: Steven

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