Can You Have An Epidural If You Have A Lower Back Tattoo?

Can You Have An Epidural If You Have A Lower Back Tattoo?

30 Aug 2022 | 3 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 740 Articles

Epidural anaesthesia is commonly used to relieve pain during childbirth. However, going through this procedure during childbirth its own risks and side effects. There are many myths about it as well and one of them is how a back tattoo can affect administering an epidural injection. Can you have an epidural injection if you have a back tattoo? Here’s all that you need to know.

What Is An Epidural?

It is a common anaesthetic used to relieve pain during labour. Given in the form of epidural injection in the back to numb any feeling in the lower half of your body. Hence, it helps to lessen the pain of contractions one experiences during childbirth.

The epidural injection is given to you by a medical expert either in the beginning, middle, or end of your labour. A lower back tattoo won’t necessarily prevent you from having an epidural, a common type of anaesthesia, during labour. However, some exceptions would be if the tattoo is-

  • Scaly or raised and scaly
  • Has become swollen, red, or is oozing fluid and appears infected
  • The tattoo is still recent and the affected area is still healing

How Is Epidural Injection Given If You Have A Back Tattoo?

If you have a lower back tattoo and plan to go for an epidural during labour, the doctor will usually try to insert the needle through the area of the skin that doesn’t have the tattoo. It could be an open area in the design of the tattoo. If possible, the doctor might choose a different area in your lower back.

epidural injection
The use of epidural is done in the form of injection during labour / Image Source – Canva

If that isn’t possible, the anesthesiologist might make a small prick on your skin before inserting the needle. This helps to reduce the risk that’s linked with trapping tattoo pigment inside the needle. It also prevents the risk of depositing the pigment into deeper tissues.

Placing a needle right through the tattoo might lead to a small scar that could change the appearance of the tattoo.

epidural and back tattoo
The use of epidural during labour pain and childbirth should be carefully considered when you have a back tattoo / Credit – Image Source

Side Effects Of Epidural

Here are some side effects of using an epidural.

  • Some of the common medications like opioids used in an epidural can cause itchy skin.
  • There can be soreness due to the use of epidural
  • After an epidural injection, the nerves will be numb which can cause numbness in your bladder and hence you might lose control over your bladder.
  • In very rare cases, when the epidural needle punctures the membrane that covers the spinal cord leading to fluid leakage, it can cause a severe headache.
  • You may get a fever because of an epidural.
  • The needle used during epidural injection might cause infections however this is very rare.

If you’re concerned about the factors associated with getting an epidural injection if you have a lower back tattoo, consult your doctor about other labour pain management options. The doctor may suggest relaxation exercises, breathing techniques or injected medications and more.



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