An epidural involves injecting a steroid. Epidurals are commonly used for pain relief and to increase mobility. In many situations, they are an alternative to surgery. At the very least, they may help you delay surgery. Additionally, 71 percent of pregnant women have epidurals.
But what shouldn’t you do after an epidural? And what is safe to do?
You cannot drive after your epidural. There are a few reasons for this. Some of it comes down to the fact that you may experience numbness after the injection. The other aspect is that your reflexes may be slower.
The consensus is that you shouldn’t drive for 12 hours after your epidural or the rest of the day. Confirm when you can drive with your doctor.
Don’t Apply Heat
Although you can apply ice, you shouldn’t apply heat to the injection area after an epidural. Wait at least 72 hours to do this. A regular shower is fine, as long as you don’t turn the temperature too high. Avoid steam rooms and hot packs.
Ice Is Fine
Remember that ice is fine to apply. In fact, ice is a great way to reduce any soreness from the injection site. Apply the ice for about 20 minutes before giving it a break.
You likely won’t feel up to exercising on the day of the epidural. Even if you do feel up to it, don’t exercise. Wait at least 24 hours after the epidural. Even then, listen to your body.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact Your Doctor
Don’t hesitate to talk to your pain management doctor after your epidural. This is particularly important if you have questions or are one of the unlucky few to notice a negative reaction.
It is very rare to get an infection following an epidural, but it is possible. If you notice redness at the site of the injection, drainage from the site, severely increased pain, fever, or chills, you may have an infection. Call your doctor right away.
Don’t Expect Instant Relief
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect instant relief after your epidural. There will be some immediate relief from the numbing agent. But, long-term pain relief may not arrive for up to 10 days. Most people notice relief in two or three days and a peak in relief at two weeks. You should also be prepared for a slight increase in pain for a day or two after the injection.
Additionally, don’t expect the epidural to guarantee relief. Spine-Health reports that epidurals relieve pain only about half the time.
You should also be prepared for other potential side effects. If you are diabetic, your blood sugar may rise slightly for a few days after the epidural. If you tend to retain fluids, you may retain more than normal for a week or two.
Always Talk to Your Doctor
Always talk to your doctor before your epidural. This lets you make sure that you understand your post-procedure instructions. Remember that everyone is different and so is every condition. You may need more or less rest than the average person. Your pain management specialist will make sure you know the restrictions – and that someone is with you right after the injection.
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