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Common Side Effects on Legs After an Epidural

by
author image Amber Canaan
Amber Canaan has a medical background as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and pediatric oncology. She began her writing career in 2005, focusing on pregnancy and health. Canaan has a degree in science from the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences and owns her own wellness consulting business.
Common Side Effects on Legs After an Epidural
Epidurals can cause numbness and tingling in the legs. Photo Credit legs against grass image by ann triling from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Epidurals are an effective form of pain relief and anesthesia in laboring women and patients undergoing certain surgical procedures. Epidurals are administered by specially trained doctors known as anesthesiologists. The anesthesiologist inserts a needle into the patient’s back and threads a tiny catheter into the epidural space around the spinal cord. Medication is given through the catheter, producing an anesthetic effect. Patients with an epidural may experience side effects in their legs once the epidural is placed and after it is removed.

Warmth and Tingling

After an epidural is placed, anesthetic medication is administered for pain relief. The legs may become warm and start to tingle as the medication begins to take effect. Numbness and tingling may occur more in one leg than another, especially if the patient is lying or propped on one side. Women’s Health Matters explains that these sensations are experienced soon after epidural is placed. The sensation may go away as the anesthesia begins to take effect.

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Numbness

Depending on the dosage of medicine administered through the epidural, patients may experience complete numbness in both legs. The University of North Carolina Women’s Hospital notes that numbness in the legs is normal with epidurals, and sensation will return when the medication is discontinued and wears off. Numbness following epidural placement almost always restricts a patient to complete bed rest. A urinary catheter may be placed to empty the bladder.

Long-term Effects

After the epidural has been removed, some patients may experience long-term side effects related to their legs. Neurological complications can occur which cause patients to experience a small numb area on one leg. Though extremely rare, it is possible for paralysis to occur, causing the patient to lose the use of both legs.

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