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What is an epidural injection?

Anaesthetic or steriods are injected into an area called the epidural space which is around and below the spinal cord. The nerves that carry pain sensations are blocked below the level of the injection.

What types of epidural injections are available?

The type of injection you will receive depends on where it is given.

What happens during an epidural?

Staff will help you lie on your side with your knees drawn up to your tummy and your chin tucked in or to sit up and lean forward. Both positions straighten and stretch the spine and the spinal cord.

The anaesthetist will carefully select a point to inject by feeling for specific bones in the spine and hips. A small amount of local anaesthetic is injected into the skin around the chosen point. After a minute or so when the skin is numb the anaesthetist will insert the larger epidural needle through the skin and towards the spine. When the needle reaches the space around the spinal cord, a fine plastic tube is inserted through the bore of the needle. The needle is then removed, leaving the plastic tube in place running from the area around the spinal cord through the skin to the outside. The tube is stuck to the back with sticking plaster and the anaesthetist can then inject anaesthetic drugs down this tube.

Whilst the anaesthetist is preparing the site for the injection you will need to stay very still. Once you have received the injection the anaesthetist will ask you to lie on one side and then the other to spread the anaesthetic evenly round the spinal cord. The whole procedure usually takes 15 - 30 minutes.

How long will I need to stay in Hospital?

The length of stay in hospital will be determined by the reason for the epidural. You will not be allowed to leave until you are fully able to move about on your own.

What are the possible complications?

Side effects of an epidural injection may include:

  • Failure of the epidural
  • Increased pain
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Temporary leg or arm weakness
  • Backache

Rare reactions to an epidural injection can include:

  • Seizures
  • Infection around the spine
  • Nerve injury
  • Blood clot in the spine
Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870

4 Trumpington Road
Cambridge
CB2 8AF

01223 303336

Cardiff Bay Hospital
Dunleavey Drive
Cardiff
CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

Wrexham Road
Chester
CH4 7QP

01244 680 444

78 Broyle Road
Chichester
PO19 6WB

01243 530600

Rykneld Road
Derby
DE23 4SN

01332 540100

Wonford Road
Exeter
EX2 4UG

01392 262110

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

01413349441

Burrell Road
Haywards Heath
RH16 1UD

01444 456999

Venns Lane
Hereford
HR1 1DF

01432 355 131

Foxhall Road
Ipswich
IP4 5SW

01473 279100

2 Leighton Street
Leeds
LS1 3EB

01133 882 067

Scraptoft Lane
Leicester
LE5 1HY

0116 2769 401

Clayton Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131

Beech Road
Headington
Oxford
OX3 7RP

01865 307777

Derriford Road
Plymouth
PL6 8BG

01752 775861

Longden Road
Shrewsbury
SY3 9DP

01743 282628

Staplegrove Elm
Taunton
TA2 6AN

01823 286991

Junction Road
Norton
Stockton on Tees
TS20 1PX

01642 367439

Kingswood Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 4UL

01892 531111

The Chase
Old Milverton Lane
Leamington Spa
CV32 6RW

01926 436351

Winchester Road
Chandlers Ford
Eastleigh
SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

Shores Road
Woking
GU21 4BY

01483 227800

Wood Road
Tettenhall
Wolverhampton
WV6 8LE

01902 754 177

Haxby Road
York
YO31 8TA

01904 715000

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