Everything you need to know about epidural or spinal headaches

An epidural is a procedure in which an anesthesiologist inserts a large needle into a women’s spine during labour, following which a tube is inserted into the space to administer the pain medication directly to the area. “An epidural is a numbing agent having a combination of analgesics (pain relief without the loss of muscle movement) and anesthetics (pain relief with a loss of sensation) for pain control during childbirth,” said Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, consultant obstetrician & gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar.

While it is considered a safe and effective way to treat labour pain, in some cases, epidurals may cause headaches — especially if the needle goes too far.

“Also known as a spinal headache, an epidural headache is a reversible headache a new mother usually suffers starting after 48-72 hours of spinal anesthesia. It usually does not cause a migraine headache, however, the stress associated with labour and delivery can trigger it,” the expert added, further sharing that it usually happens during a dural puncture, which can cause the spinal fluid to leak.


According to the expert, the symptoms typically occur within 24-48 hours, and include:

*Lower back pain
*Blurred or double vision
*Hearing loss
*Neck pain or stiffness

Usually, women with a low BMI or are underweight are at a higher risk of having an epidural headache. “So, it is better to maintain optimum weight as per the expert’s advice before the delivery,” said Dr Siddhartha.