16 Sep How Long After Epidural Can You Walk?
During an epidural, your spine surgeon injects a steroid into the epidural space in your spine, possibly with a numbing agent and/or saline solution. After an epidural injection, you will need some time to recover, and it is common to wonder what this involves.
Most of the time, you can walk within a half hour or so of your epidural injection. However, you will not necessarily be walking normally at this point. Most clinics and hospitals monitor you for 15 minutes to an hour after an epidural injection.
During this time, they will likely ask how you feel. They may also ask you to move your legs around. Based on their experience, the medical team will let you know when it is safe to try walking.
The most important factor for when you can walk will be numbness. You may feel numbness in your legs after an epidural. This can last for up to several hours, but it can be less. Once you have feeling in your legs, let the medical team know. They will help you decide if it is safe for you to walk.
Be Careful When Walking
Right after the epidural, you will have to be careful when walking. You may be unsteady and need support. Take it slow, and make sure you don’t walk too much right away.
What Else to Delay
In addition to waiting a little to walk, there are some other things you can’t do right after an epidural.
You can’t drive after an epidural. This is due to a combination of impaired reflexes and numbness. Don’t drive or operate other machinery for a full 24 hours after the epidural.
Don’t drink any alcohol for a full 24 hours after the injection.
Don’t exercise or conduct any rigorous activity for at least 24 hours after the epidural. You can evaluate when you feel okay to exercise.
Don’t apply heat to the injection site for at least 72 hours (three days) after the epidural. This includes direct heat like a heat pack. It also includes indirect heat, such as in a sauna or an extremely hot shower. Normal showers are fine.
Be Careful About Resting Too Much
While you want to take it easy after an epidural, do not take this to an extreme. Remember that staying active can reduce your back pain by 10 to 50 percent.
Part of the recovery from an epidural is walking slowly. Sit or lie down and rest for about half an hour, then walk around for about 5-10 minutes. Repeat this process during the first day of recovery.
This should get you on track to getting back to your regular routine after the injection. A 2007 study noted that 59 percent of patients had a higher walking tolerance six weeks after an epidural.
When in Doubt, Ask Your Doctor
Remember that everyone is different. You may need to wait more or less time before walking after an epidural. When in doubt, ask your doctor if you are ready to walk. The medical team will keep a close eye on you until they decide it is safe for you to go home. At that point, you will be free to walk.
At New York Spine Specialist, we treat patients for acute and chronic pain after an auto accident, work-related injuries, slip-and-fall trauma. If you are experiencing pain, we are here to help and offer the right treatment for your condition.
Call (516) 355-0111 to schedule an appointment with a trusted pain management doctor near you. We accept insurance plans, including no-fault and workers’ compensation insurance.