Can epidurals cause long-term side effects?

Before receiving any type of medical procedure, your doctor or healthcare team must inform you of the potential risks and side effects. This is the case even for epidurals.

Though epidurals are usually safe, some people have reported complications and side effects. The Cleveland Clinic explains a few of the risks and complications associated with epidurals.

Complications of epidurals

Epidural complications are rare. However, they are not unheard of. Among others, the top complications of epidurals are as follows:

  • Spinal fluid leakage, accompanied by an intense headache
  • Severely low blood pressure
  • Infection, including osteomyelitis, meningitis and discitis
  • Hematoma or blood clot because of a damaged blood vessel
  • Loss of feeling in the legs for a few hours
  • Inability to push during labor/delayed labor

These complications typically last for a few hours to a few days.

Long-lasting side effects of epidural

Complications of epidural typically last no more than a few hours to a few days. However, some people report experiencing long-term or permanent side effects from epidurals. Though rare, some patients report living with chronic pain due to nerve root or spinal cord damage at the site of injection. Others are diagnosed with a permanent neurologic deficit due to nerve root or spinal cord damage because of the injection. Yet others live with permanent paralysis from a hematoma that develops when a buildup of blood between the spinal cord and dura mater.

The risks associated with epidurals are very real. For this reason, doctors and healthcare teams have a duty to inform their patients of these risks and to mitigate them as much as possible. If you live with an epidural injury, and if you were unaware of the potential risks, you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit on your hands.

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