Pain Management Program

Epidural Analgesia: Questions and Answers

What is epidural analgesia?

Epidural analgesia is a type of pain relief. Epidural analgesia is an important part of the overall plan for your child’s pain control. Epidural analgesia is a way of putting pain medication close to the body part that hurts. It is useful for moderate to severe pain.

How does the epidural work?

The epidural catheter is a tiny tube placed under the skin in the back. The end of the epidural catheter is near the nerves that help the body feel and control pain. The catheter is securely taped in place. Pain medication is given through the epidural catheter. The epidural tubing is attached to a pump that constantly delivers pain medicine.

Why use the epidural?

Since the pain medication goes directly to the area that senses and controls pain, less medication is needed to control your child’s pain. This results in fewer side effects than other ways of receiving pain medication.

What kind of medicines will be used?

Two types of medicines are usually given through the epidural. One is an opioid (also called a narcotic), and the other is a local anesthetic that is a numbing medicine. These medications will decrease the amount of pain your child feels. For more information about these medications, ask your child's doctor or nurse.

Will the epidural make all of the pain go away?

No, but your child should feel comfortable enough to move around in bed. It may be possible for your child to leave the bed with the help of a nurse. If you think the medicine is not working well, tell your child’s nurse or doctor.

Does the epidural hurt?

The epidural catheter is placed when your child is asleep in the Operating Room. Your child will not feel the epidural catheter while it is in place, or when it is removed.

How long will my child need to use the epidural?

The epidural catheter will usually stay in place 1-5 days. After it is removed, your child may take pills or liquid pain medication. The pain management plan may change to meet your child’s specific needs.

If you have any questions about epidural pain relief, please speak with your child's doctor or nurse.

Contact us

For more information about the Pain Management Program at CHOP or to schedule an appointment, please call 215-590-1409.

Reviewed by: the Pain Managment Program team
Date: August 2012

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