TMI Thursday: The truth about Caudal Epidurals

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I’m mostly writing this beacuse I couldn’t find much online about it.  I’d like to have known a bit more about the procedure before it happened to me.

First off, I go the caudal epidural because of my consistant tailbone pain while sitting.  Church is almost unbearable (more than usual, if you can imagine!).  I’ve tried yoga and working out for the past 6 months with little relief, which is why I took it to a doctor.  We are treating it in 2 ways (my doctor is a spine doctor — and yes, that’s what they told me when I asked what kind of a doctor he is — it seems like most of the people in there are complaining of back pain).

1.  Physical therapy.  I am lucky enough to have a physical therapist who is also trained in doing some osteopathic techniques.  She’s seeing how well my spine moves and she’s adjusted it a bit.  I also have some exercises to do to help my pelvic floor, which seems to be the root cause of all this fun.  Let’s just say her finding my pelvic floor is not something I could even add to a TMI post.  I’m doing the stretching she’s given me 2-3 times/day.  It’s mostly streching out my hips, nothing too scary with the stretches.

2.  Caudal Steroid Epidural.  This is done by the “spine doctor” who I saw.  It’s similar to the epidural you get in labor, but you’re not already in a ton of pain, so you get the full effect.  You lay on your stomach, and they numb your skin and then place a  needle a fair ways in (all of this is done in your lower sacral area, and yes, I do mean your butt crack) and push dye (to visualize better — this is all done under flouroscopy — which is just an x-ray that can take several images while he’s doing the procedure — I did need to do a pregnancy test pior and thank GOODNESS it was negative), then some numbing medication, and then some steriod to help with inflamation in the joint.  I’m not going to lie.  It hurt.  He told me to tell him to stop if it was too painful, I’ve had kidney stones and I was JUST ABOUT to say STOP when it ended.  You’re mostly feeling a LOT of pressure on your tailbone area because he’s injecting a fair amount of fluid into a fairly small space, not to mention your tailbone’s not a super flexible bone.  It was quick though, and I felt fine afterwards.  There was no IV, and I didn’t even have to change into a gown.  I coudln’t eat for 6 hours prior to the procedure, although I have no idea why.  I mean, if there was a possibility of aspiration you’d think they’d place an IV…. Last night I had a little numbness in my feet, and the injection area hurt.  Today I have a headache and the injection area is either painful or itching, depending on its mood.  I’m not supposed to lift anything more than 15 pounds (thankfully, P is a lightweight) for the next day or so.  Drew’s actually taken the morning off {gasp} to help out.  Laundry’s kind  of out, and he had boring meetings anyway.  I actually sent him to the grocery store.  May God be with him. :)  They say that the injected area will hurt more today, because the steriods will irritate it, and then slowly get better.  We shall see.

Anyway, there you go.  I hope it gives some info for someone else who’s going in for a similar procedure.  He doesn’t have high hopes for it, says it doesn’t work all that often, but it was worth a shot.  If it works, and later stops working, I can get it again, or I can also do a different procedure but I get the feeling it’s a bit more painful and more involved.  I’m hoping the combination of this and PT will do the trick.

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  1. Jordanne says

    I had this done a few years ago and it helped a lot! I haven’t been through your archives enough to know if it helped you (hope so!), but I have a question. I am now pregnant with my first and I have been wondering, and a little nervous, about the fact that a ton of precautions were taken during this procedure (dye first, flouroscopy) and none of them will be done during the epidural I have with delivery. This one coming up can’t be as accurate, can it?

    • says

      I did find it helpful, the first time. Not so much on subsequent times. The other type of epidurals really need to be targeted to a specific spot. A labor epidural isn’t like that. They work just fine just by the procedure they use.

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