Epidurals are often the first option for pain relief during labor or delivery. Analgesia, which is a pain reliever for laboring women that has a numbing effect and is safe and effective, is the most popular. Some people report experiencing back pain for several weeks or months, even after the medication has worn off. Learn more about back pain following an epidural. What causes it? And what you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
An epidural involves injecting medication into the area around your spinal nerves. This is known as the epidural. This medicine may be an anesthetic, or a steroid depending on the reason. However, the goal of both is to provide pain relief and numbness in a specific area of the body. Pain relief during labor is primarily focused on the lower half.
Because epidurals can be administered while the patient remains awake, they can also be used to anesthetize a specific area of the body. Epidurals are most commonly used to relieve labor-related pain. However, back pain specialists often use epidural injections containing steroids to manage their pain.
An epidural anesthesia injection is a procedure that injects medication into the epidural space around the spine. This stops pain signals from reaching the brain via the spine. This fluid space surrounds the spinal canal and acts as a liquid sleeve, protecting the vital spinal cord.
Because it connects all the nerves in your body to the spinal cord, the spinal cord is vital. If you have an injury, the spinal cord will send a pain signal from your brain to your spine. The epidural anesthetic temporarily numbs the spinal nerves. This in turn blocks pain signals in certain areas of your body depending on the location where the provider has injected it. An epidural can either provide temporary relief from pain or cause complete feeling loss depending on its dosage and type.
The epidural steroid injections are different because they are intended to manage chronic pain and not for temporary use. The anesthetic medication is replaced by steroid injections. A steroid, or corticosteroid, is injected into your epidural space. The steroid is then injected into the epidural space around your spine. It acts to reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. Injections of epidural steroids can provide temporary, long-term, or permanent pain relief.
Although epidurals have a low risk of complications, they can pose risks to those who already have certain conditions. Before you decide to get an epidural, there are some common risks that you need to be aware of:
Short-term back pain is one of the most common side effects after an epidural. The injection site may feel tender and sore for several days. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between this and other back pain caused by labor and delivery. Your body will begin to realign itself after birth. An epidural may cause long-term or chronic back pain, although it is not uncommon.
It can be hard to see how epidural injections cause back pain and how much is due to the birth experience. Both can cause pain. The injection site can cause the following pain:
The pelvis is subject to extreme pressure during pregnancy as it grows and changes its shape to accommodate the delivery. The pelvis shrinks to a smaller size immediately after birth. This puts additional strain on the sacroiliac joint. This time, the pelvis also attempts to heal itself by putting additional strain on its muscles and ligaments. Postpartum pain can radiate through the back as women exert more and move more.
You should consult your epidural if the pain is not related to the injection site or lasts more than a few weeks. A chiropractic adjustment can help ease the pain that occurs after birth.
It can be hard to tell if your back pain is caused by an epidural or birth. They are usually treated in the same manner. This back pain can be relieved by many home remedies, as well as treatment by back pain specialists such as chiropractors.
A simple massage by a partner can help ease sore back muscles. A professional massage is recommended. It can help target pain areas and it can also be a relaxing way to integrate self-care into your post-partum routine.
People tend to use heat or ice to ease the pain. However, it is best to mix the two to reduce discomfort.
Cold therapy can be used if your back pain is severe. Apply a cold compress to your lower back, a bag full of ice, or frozen vegetables. Wrap it in a towel so that it doesn’t come into direct contact with your skin. This can be done as many times as you like, but no more than 20 minutes at once.
After several days of ice therapy, you can switch to heat to soothe your back. To do this, you can use a heating pad or compress, or even a warm bath. A sock filled full of uncooked rice that has been microwaved is a great option.
It can be hard to do this if there is a newborn at home. However, the more you can relax your back, the easier it will be to eliminate back pain. Rest can also mean not engaging in strenuous activities, as well as lying down. To avoid extra strain on your back, it can be helpful to place a pillow under your knees while you lie down.
You may need to move to relieve pain. Low-impact activities are the best, and they are what you will usually be cleared for during your first postpartum period. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, core exercises that strengthen your abdomen and pelvic area are good options. Yoga is also a good option.
You can also use an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen if your back pain is severe. Some may even have been sent home with some by your obstetrician. Before you take any over-the-counter medication, make sure to consult your doctor if you are pregnant or taking any prescribed medication.
If your back pain persists or is difficult to treat, you may need professional help. A 2019 study found that most back pain after childbirth is resolved within six months. However, you can seek treatment well before that.
When does back pain warrant a visit to the spine specialist? Any symptoms that are troubling, such as numbness, weakness, and worsening pain, should be reported immediately to a doctor.
Your provider will tailor a treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and needs based on your symptoms and any issues that may have been detected on diagnostic scans.
Physical therapy is one of the most common treatments that you might seek. Physical therapy will help you relieve pain and improve mobility.
A physical therapist may teach you some techniques, such as:
These tips can be used at home as well as by a physical therapist who will devise a plan that includes in-office exercises and other treatments to relieve pain and improve movement.
A chiropractor can help you guide your spine and pelvis to align properly during times of shifting or shrinking. This can help speed up the process. Postpartum women are often treated by chiropractors who specialize in helping pregnant women. They can perform adjustments to alleviate or manage their pain.
Rarely, your back pain may be directly linked to receiving an epidural. Nerve damage is the most common result of an injection. The nerve damage will typically affect one nerve, causing numbness or weakness in the skin and back pain. Nerve damage can also cause sensory problems or motor control loss. These symptoms are usually temporary and will resolve in a few weeks. Rarer are permanent nerve damages that result in loss of use of a limb, loss of bladder control, or loss of bowel control.
Nerve damage can occur from an injury such as a needle or catheter puncture, blood clots, infections, or insufficient blood supply. This damage can be addressed by a neurologist who will assess you and determine the root cause. In addition to nerve conduction studies, you may need an MRI or CT scan. This will assist in determining a treatment plan that can reverse nerve damage and prevent future complications.
Epidurals are used to treat back pain. However, epidural users may be more cautious about the possibility of experiencing back pain as an unwanted side effect. The risk of experiencing back pain in these cases is lower because most back pain is thought to be due to pregnancy or birth.
These injections can pose a risk. The procedure can cause nausea, headaches, and flushing. The symptoms are usually temporary and do not require any additional treatment beyond an icepack. The injection site would be responsible for any back pain that may result from these injections. It is crucial to ensure you only seek epidural steroid injections from a trusted provider. They will be able to administer the treatment with the utmost care to reduce nerve complications.
At Clarendon Chiropractic we are here to assist you, whether you’re a new mom or are looking for experts in epidural steroid injections. Our chiropractors are available to help you with your specific needs.