What Are the Different Spinal Block Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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Spinal block side effects are usually relatively mild and disappear shortly after the procedure, although more severe side effects are possible. Headaches and nausea are the most frequently reported side effects, and the spinal area may be tender for a few days. Dehydration, low blood pressure, and bladder pain are possible spinal block side effects. More serious complications may occasionally occur and can involve nerve damage, difficulty breathing, and allergic reactions. Any suspected spinal block side effects should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation.

The most common spinal block side effects are headaches and nausea. Headaches occur often as a result of this procedure and may be treated with over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. Caffeine may increase the effectiveness of the pain relievers and is often recommended to those who have undergone this procedure. Occasionally, the headaches are so severe that a surgical procedure known as a blood patch must be performed. Nausea and dizziness are relatively common and usually disappear once the headache has been effectively treated.


Dehydration and low blood pressure are possible spinal block side effects. These symptoms can usually be easily prevented by drinking plenty of fluids after the procedure has been completed. Bladder pain may result from urinary retention, a temporary inability to empty the bladder, and can be relieved by having a catheter inserted into the bladder to drain the urine until normal urinary function can resume. Back pain may develop following a spinal block due to minor tissue damage caused by the insertion of the needle.

Nerve damage is a rare but potentially serious complication of spinal block anesthesia methods. Blood clots may occasionally develop due to accidental damage to one of the veins. Medications can often be given to dissolve the blood clots, although surgical intervention may sometimes become necessary. Shortness of breath is sometimes experienced as a result of this procedure and is typically treated with supplemental oxygen therapy.

Allergic reactions are rare but potentially fatal spinal block side effects and require immediate medical attention. Hives, facial swelling, and chest pain are common symptoms of a serious type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. In the most severe cases, the throat and tongue may swell so much that breathing becomes difficult or impossible. Blood pressure levels may drop suddenly, leading to loss of consciousness or coma. Patients who have an anaphylactic reaction will likely be prescribed an injectible medication to be carried at all times in the event of a recurrence.


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