Spinal block is sometimes known as spinal.  It provides pain relief to the lower part of the body for a limited period of time. A narcotic or anesthetic such as fetanyl, bupivacaine or lidocaine is injected below the spinal column directly into the spinal fluid.


spinal block


Difference between a spinal block and a spinal epidural

It is easy to confuse these two because they are both injections in the spinal area. However for the spinal block, narcotics or anesthetic is injected once with a needle. A spinal epidural or combined spinal epidural uses a catheter which is placed in the epidural space to allow continuous anesthesia.
Spinal blocks are not widely used today because of the preference for epidural. However they can be used in more complex situations or cesarean sections.

What are the advantages of a spinal block

Pros of having a spinal block include the following :

  • pain relief starts right away
  • you stay awake and alert
  • the needle used to inject the medicine is thinner than that used for an epidural


What are the disadvantages of having a spinal block

A spinal block may cause one of the following conditions

  • low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • it may provide an uneven pain relief affecting one side of the body more than the other
  • you may have difficulty controlling your bladder. You may need a catheter
  • severe headache requiring an epidural blood patch
  • difficulty pushing during the second stage of labor
  • you may feel soreness at the injection site

Content Sources

Spinal Block .American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/spinal-block/. Accessed September 1, 2015


Spinal block of labor pain. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/spinal-block-for-labor-pain.aspx. Accessed September 1, 2015
Spinal block for labor. Baby Center. http://www.babycenter.com/0_spinal-block-for-labor-pain_1489918.bc. September 1, 2015


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