Commonly asked questions about an epidural

Does placing the epidural hurt?
Your anesthesiologist will numb your skin before he or she inserts the needle for the epidural. When the numbing medicine is injected it may feel like a bee sting. After your skin is numb, you will feel some pressure when the epidural needle is placed.

Can the epidural be placed after I am asleep?
It is not safe to place the epidural after you are asleep. You need to be awake so your anesthesiologist can watch for any side effects.

Can I walk with my epidural?
You can and should walk while you have an epidural. You will need to have help from your nurse because your legs may not feel strong. Walking is one of the most important activities you can do to help you recover from your surgery.

Will I get a headache from the epidural?
There is a very small chance you may get a headache from the epidural. If you do get a headache, your health care team will work with you to manage your pain. If your headache does not go away, you may need additional treatment. Your anesthesiologist can talk more about this with you, if needed.

Do I need a urinary (Foley) catheter if I have an epidural?
You will need to have a urinary catheter in your bladder for at least the first 24 hours after your surgery. The urinary catheter will be inserted during surgery while you are asleep. The catheter may be removed on day one or two after your surgery. After it is removed, you will be able to urinate.

How will my pain be controlled after the epidural is removed?
After the epidural is stopped, you will take pain pills by mouth.

Does it hurt when the epidural is removed?
You shouldn't feel when the epidural is removed. It should only take a few seconds to remove.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Understanding Your Colon or Rectal Surgery, can-ah-95399
First Published: 01/24/2013
Last Reviewed: 08/15/2017