14 Sep How Long Should You Rest After an Epidural?
There is no single answer to how long you should rest following an epidural, as it depends on your definition of rest. At the very least, you should rest until you have regained feeling in all of your limbs, as moving around earlier puts you at risk of injury. This will usually take up to a few hours. If your idea of rest is not completing normal daily activities, then wait at least 24 hours after the epidural.
What to Expect From Immediate Recovery
You may experience some numbness after an epidural, which is caused by the anesthetic. This is most common in the arms and legs, and it typically goes away within several hours, potentially up to four to six hours. To avoid injury, remain resting until this numbness subsides.
Sometimes, you may notice a slight increase in pain in the days following the epidural. This happens before the steroid has begun delivering its effects but after the numbness wears off. The pain should get better within ten days of the epidural, but you may notice a reduction within one to five days.
According to Spine-Health, more than 50 percent of patients who receive a lumbar epidural steroid injection experience at least some pain relief. Spine-Health also cites a 1998 study by Lutz et al. that found that more than 80 percent of those with sciatica from lumbar disc herniation noticed relief from an epidural injection[i].
Other Recovery Instructions – Including Limits to Activities
Although you do not need to rest in the sense of remaining still after you have regained feeling to your limbs, you should avoid some activities right after the epidural.
Do not drive within 12 hours of receiving your epidural injection.
Do not apply heat right to the injection site for at least three days following the epidural. This includes steam rooms, saunas, and hot packs, but your regular shower is safe.
Normal Daily Activities
Wait a full 24 hours after the injection to get back to your full range of daily activities.
Take It Easy But Move Around
You should not be afraid just to rest and remain mostly still as you recover from the epidural, but you do want to move around every once in a while. This is as simple as taking a short walk when you feel able.
Medicines, Eating, and Drinking
After the procedure, you can eat, drink, and take your medications as normal.
Swimming and Baths
Wait until the day after your epidural to take a bath, swim, or go in a hot tub.
Return to Activities When You Feel Up to It
Since everyone has a slightly different recovery to epidurals, you should get back to normal daily activities when you feel comfortable, as long as at least 24 hours have passed. This includes completing physical therapy or exercising.
Ask Your Doctor
Don’t just take this information as a given. Everyone is different, so you should always be sure to confirm this information with your doctor. Post-injection recovery instructions can vary, and your doctor will consider your health history and the type and location of the epidural. Follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery, and you should heal quickly.
At New York Spine Specialist, we treat patients for acute and chronic pain after an auto accident and work-related injury. If you are experiencing pain, call us to schedule an appointment with an experienced pain management doctor near you at (516) 355-0111. We are here to help and offer the right treatment for your condition.
 Lutz, GE, et al: Fluoroscopic transforaminal lumbar epidural steroids: an outcome study. Arch. Phys Med Rehab, Nov. 1998, Vol 79(11), pp. 1362-6. Using analysis of prospective randomized study comparing transforaminal lumbar epidural injection with lumbar paraspinal trigger-point injection for treatment of patients with sciatica from herniated discs.