As with any other procedure, there are some instructions that you will need to follow before you receive an epidural. These apply no matter the reason you are getting an epidural. That includes to deal with pain from car accidents, work accidents, a slip and fall, or degenerative spinal problem.
With 75 percent of patients in one study cited by Spine-Health experiencing at least a 50 percent reduction in pain in a year, it is no wonder that this is a popular treatment method for pain.
 Botwin, KP et al. Fluoroscopically guided lumbar transforaminal epidural steroid injections in degenerative lumbar stenosis: an outcome study. Am J Phys Med Rehab Dec 2002, Vol 81(12), pp. 898-905.[cta_banner]
Eating and Drinking
You should not eat or drink anything for four hours before your appointment. Depending on your injection, this may not be a requirement. If you will be sedated, you may not be able to eat or drink for even longer. This may be up to six or eight hours.
Keep in mind that you will be able to eat and drink right after the injection.
You cannot drink alcohol on the day of your epidural or during the night before it.
Most Medications Are Fine
Most routine medications are fine to take on the day of your epidural. Confirm this with your doctor beforehand since there may be exceptions. Ideally, you should take the medications with just a tiny sip of water.
If you take blood-thinning medications, then you will need to stop taking them for at least a few days before the epidural in most cases. This depends on the type of epidural and the medication in question.
As an example, you only need to stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines like Aleve®, Advil®, ibuprofen, or Motrin® five days before cervical epidural injections but not for most lumbar injections.
For most blood-thinning medications, your doctor will suggest you stop taking them between 24 hours and seven days before the appointment. In some cases, you may also need clearance from another specialist, such as your cardiologist in the case of patients with stents.
It is very important to tell your doctor about blood-thinning medications, as they can increase your risk of bleeding. Expect a specific question about whether you take blood thinners. After all, two to three million people take them annually.
You must also inform your doctor if you are taking antibiotics or have taken them within 10 days before the procedure.
Other Preparation Instructions
On the day of your epidural, you should take a shower or bath before you go to your procedure. Do not apply nail polish, deodorant, lotion, or perfume after the shower.
If you are sick at the time of the epidural, your doctor may have to delay it. You should also let your doctor know if you have been sick in the 10 days before the epidural. That includes infections, dental sores, gastrointestinal discomfort, and colds. This may affect the ability to give you the epidural.
Ask Your Doctor
Your doctor may have slightly different requirements for you to prepare for your epidural. Because of this, you should always consult your doctor and ensure that you are clear on what not to take or do before your epidural.
Ask your doctor when you schedule the epidural. This helps you avoid showing up to the appointment only to find out you must delay the epidural because of something you did or took. You can easily avoid this situation by talking to your doctor ahead of time.
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