Back Pain After Epidural: Is It Normal?

Back Pain After Epidural: Is It Normal?

So, you’ve just given birth to your little babe — big congrats to you, mama! 👏

We hope you’re enjoying your first few days into the world of motherhood. 🤗

But, maybe now you’ve left the hospital with a bad case of backache, you’re thinking… “Ouch, is this from my epidural??”

Although very handy in a time of pain, epidurals can throw up a whole bunch of side effects, at a pretty confusing time for your body anyway. 🙃

Like headaches, nausea, and… you guessed it — back pain.

So, can epidurals cause back pain?

And, if so, is this a normal reaction?

Let’s dive right into it. 👇

In this article: 📝

  • Can you get back pain from an epidural?
  • How are epidural backaches caused?
  • How can you relieve epidural back pain?
  • How long does backache after an epidural last?
  • How can you tell your backache is from your epidural, and not something else?

Can you get back pain from an epidural?

Yep — you can have temporary back pain from your epidural. [1]

This is most likely to be at, and around, the injection site.

But, it can sometimes be tricky to work out if it’s epidural back pain, or just back pain from delivering your baby. 🤷‍♀️

(’Cause, let’s face it mama, delivering a baby ain’t exactly a walk in the park. 🫠)

And it can certainly cause some aches and pains.

For example, the bones in your pelvis start moving immediately after you give birth to shift back into their original position from before you were pregnant. [2]

And this can definitely cause some back pain.

But some say epidural backache is slightly different, and you should be able to distinguish it from any other types of pain (more on this later 👇).

While others say that there is no distinction between epidural back pain, and postpartum back pain. 🤷‍♀️ [3]

How are epidural backaches caused?

Well, the epidural itself is an injection that goes into the spine into the epidural space. 💉

So, most epidural back pain will likely be on or around the injection site itself, and presents as soreness.

This type of epidural back pain will likely clear up in a couple of days. 🙏

But, there may be another reason your back is hurting from your epidural…

In some cases, epidural injections can actually hit a nerve in your back, and can cause nerve damage. [4]

This is rare, but it can happen, and it will usually have occurred from the impact on a single nerve during the injection, causing numbness on the skin, or limited weakness in the muscles.

There may also be a loss of motor control or sensory issues, too.

But, in most cases, the symptoms will be temporary, and likely resolve within a few weeks or, in some cases, months.

If you think you have nerve damage from your epidural, your doctor will be able to advise you on the best next steps.


How common is back pain after epidurals?

Short-term back pain is quite common, apparently. [4]

So, you’re not alone, mama. 🤗

But, if it persists, and you’re unsure whether there’s something more going on, it’s always best to check in with your doc. 🩺

How can you relieve epidural back pain?

Fear not, mama — we have some remedies that should hopefully reduce some of that pesky back pain for you.

  • ♨️ Rest, rest, rest

“Haha!”, we hear you say.

Yep — we know… we can see the irony of our advice to rest after just giving birth… 🫠

But, mama, it is important, especially if you’re suffering from epidural-related back pain.

It’ll be the quickest way to ease your back pain, so try and lean on your partner or support network to help you out in these first few days of motherhood.

And, if they’re feeling really kind and helpful, they could also help you out with a soothing postpartum massage, too. 💆‍♀️

  • 💊 Pain killers & medicines

Over-the-counter medication, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are little life savers in situations like these. 🙏

Of course, if you’ve had nerve damage or more serious back pain, your doctor may also prescribe stronger medicines, or cortisone injections, to help manage the pain.

  • 🏃‍♀️ Exercise

So, wondering what exercises are good for epidural back pain?

Basically, the lower-impact the exercises, the better.

Core exercises are a good idea for strengthening your pelvic area and abdomen, but also practices like yoga could help relieve back pain.

🧘‍♀️ Physical therapy

Exercise and pain relief may not be enough so, in some cases, your doctor may recommend you get physical therapy.

This would teach you specific exercises to help ease discomfort, and improve your mobility.

🔍 Read More: Ultimate Postpartum Recovery Guide 🤰


How long does backache after an epidural last?

Usually, it’s temporary, and doesn’t last for too long. 🙏

Soreness at the injection site usually only sticks around for a few days after your epidural.

Nerve pain from damage from your epidural may persist for a little longer, more like a few weeks, but again, it should be temporary and clear up eventually on its own.

Can epidurals cause long-term or chronic backache?

It’s rare, but not impossible.

Some mamas have reported that they still feel pain in their back, even months or years after having the epidural.

But according to the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, there’s no solid evidence that having an epidural could lead to permanent back pain. [5]

A study has researched into it, but has found there’s no difference between epidural patients, and non-epidural patients in terms of long-term back pain after childbirth. [6]

Yet, that’s not what some mothers are saying. 🤷‍♀️

If you do suffer from long-term back pain, make sure to check in with your doc, as they could hopefully give you some remedies or medication to relieve some of your pain. 👩‍⚕️

Can an epidural damage your back?

Temporarily, yes — an epidural may leave your back feeling a bit worse for wear.

But experts disagree on whether epidurals can damage your back permanently.

In some very rare cases, an epidural could lead to permanent nerve damage, which could mean the permanent loss of feeling or movement of your limbs (e.g., your leg, or both legs). [4]

But, in most cases, epidurals may cause some temporary discomfort initially, but don’t damage your back permanently.

How can you tell your backache is from your epidural, and not something else?

Good question, mama.

It can be really tricky to work out what the heck is going on with your body after you’ve had a baby, especially trying to pinpoint if your back pain is epidural-related.

‘Cause, let’s face it, everything hurts. 🫠

But the back pain you’d likely experience from an epidural would be at and around the injection site, and a lingering numbness in your back.

You may also have issues rotating your body, unstable back or hips, weakness of core muscles, or sharp pains when sitting or standing for too long — but, these could also just be postpartum symptoms, too. 🤷‍♀️

So, the key thing to distinguish between the two is if your back pain lasts more than a few days, or if it’s severe and debilitating.

If this is the case, you’d need to seek treatment for epidural-related backache.

Remember, if you’re ever unsure about your symptoms and need direction on the best next step, get in touch with your doctor. 👩‍⚕️

So, in short, epidurals can cause some temporary back pain initially.

It’ll likely clear up in a few days.

But, some mamas think their epidurals caused more long-lasting back pain…

What do you think?

Tell mamas your experience by hopping on Peanut today and joining in the conversation. 🥜


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