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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michael Rosson D.C

Do Epidural Injections Cause Back Pain After Delivery?

For many women, low back pain is just par for the course during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. However, this pain can last for several weeks to several months after delivery. This condition is known as postpartum low back pain.

In some cases, women who never experienced back pain during their pregnancy will still develop postpartum low back pain. In many cases, they may received an epidural during labor and believe that this is what caused their persistent lower back pain. So, Is it possible for an epidural to cause lower back pain?

Lets first review how an epidural injection works. During an epidural, the anesthesiologist inserts a needle into the lower back. A small tube is then inserted into the epidural space (the area surrounding your spinal cord). Anesthetic is then introduced into the epidural space to help numb pain in the lower part of the body.

Studies have shown no correlation between epidural injections and persistent low back pain after surgery. In fact women who did not receive an epidural are just as likely to have postpartum low back pain as their counterparts. In the Medical Journal of Anesthesiology a study states “Postpartum low back pain was found to be associated with a prior history of back pain, younger age, and greater weight. However, new-onset postpartum back pain was found to be associated with greater weight and shorter stature” [note that this is an association and not a direct cause and effect relationship for low back pain] “No statistically significant association was found between postpartum back pain and epidural anesthesia, number of attempts at epidural placement, duration of second stage of labor, mode of delivery, or birth weight”.

So, if epidural injections are not a cause of postpartum low back pain, what is ?

The same factors that can increase the risk of low back pain during pregnancy are also the ones that can cause postpartum low back pain. These factors include postural muscle strains, weakness of the core, hormonal changes, and changes in the pelvic floor musculature. You can refer back to my previous article titled for more information on why these factors may lead to back pain.

Postpartum low back pain, like many other musculoskeletal conditions is multifactorial and not caused by any one procedure (ie. Epidural). If you have been suffering from low back pain since the birth of a child, chiropractic care in addition to rehab exercises focusing on the core and pelvic floor muscles can help !!

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