Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation is important to you and your care team. You may feel pinching or stinging as your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist injects the local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may also feel some pain and pressure during insertion of the larger spinal needle. 

Tell our care team if any discomfort in your back does not pass quickly. You should not feel any pain after the epidural block takes effect. Tell your doctor if you begin to feel sensation during surgery or childbirth.

What are the risks and potential complications of an epidural block?  

Complications of an epidural block are uncommon, but any procedure involves risks and potential complications. Complications may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or recovery. Risks and potential complications of an epidural block include: 

  • Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation, anesthesia, or other medications, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
  • Back pain
  • Bleeding around the spinal column
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, or increase in pain
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

How do I prepare for my epidural block?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort and outcome. 

You can prepare for an epidural block by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • In some cases, not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during general anesthesia, if used
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before an epidural block and between appointments. 

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need an epidural block? Are there any other anesthetic options for me?
  • How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home? Will I need a ride home?
  • How do I take my medications? 
  • How long with the epidural block last? How will you treat my pain after it wears off?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my epidural block?

Knowing what to expect after an epidural can help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible.

How will I feel after the epidural block?

Your doctor may leave the epidural catheter (tube) in place after your surgery until you can take oral pain medications. You may feel numbness in your legs and have a tube in your bladder because you may not have the urge to urinate.&