What Every Patient Needs To Know About Epidurals

pregnant patient epidural pregnancy giving birth pain relief labor risks side effects

Epidural nerve blocks are used for pain during labor and delivery. The patient and doctor will consult to decide on the best time to use a Houston epidural procedure, but a patient should be informed of every detail before signing on. It can assist both doctors as well as patients in making the best decision. 

An epidural consists of a needle and catheter that are inserted into the lower back; the needle is taken out and anesthesia medication is put into the catheter. It takes around 15 minutes for the area from the navel to legs to feel numb and this feeling of numbness lasts as long as the doctor thinks it is necessary, allowing for increases and decreases as needed to control pain. Using an epidural will allow the mother to be awake and alert during the birth, pressure can still be felt just not any pain. 

Side Effects 

There can be side effects that need to be considered with this type of procedure. One of the most common is lower blood pressure for the mother and in turn a lower heart rate for the baby. The doctor will counter the effects with an IV to give fluids and blood pressure medication if needed. Another side effect is a sore back or a headache. Both of these can last a few days or longer based on other medical issues. 

Are Side Effects Permanent? 

In most cases, the answer is no for pregnant women. With the effects for most patients being relatively mild, the worries about any long term effects are low. Any permanent issues that could arise usually stem from underlying issues that accompany the patient. The best way to avoid any of these possible effects arising is by going over illnesses and conditions with a doctor long before a procedure occurs. Regular visits and exams also help discover anything that could complicate the epidural effectiveness. 

What Does It Treat? 

Epidural steroid injections can be used to give a patient medications and work for neck, back, leg or arm pain. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation thus relieving the pain as these injections are given in the epidural area that is between the spine and vertebrae. An anesthetic is given at the same time to prevent additional pain. It is done as an outpatient procedure and takes around 30 minutes with an additional 30 minutes in the recovery room. X-ray fluoroscopy and contrast dye are used to make sure the injection is put into the correct area, there is no pain as the injection site is numbed. Only three injections can be given in a year and these have to be at least two weeks apart. 

The epidural procedure has long been regarded as a valuable tool for medical professionals. More than a choice for just expectant mothers, the potential of these treatments is limitless. When it comes to any procedure, knowledge improves the chances of success. Keep these factors in mind along with regular conversations with a medical provider to have the best experience for pregnancy delivery and pain management.