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Intrathecal Analgesia


Intrathecal analgesia (IA) is a type of pain control. It is also called spinal anesthesia. Pain medicine is injected around your spinal cord to control pain from surgery or labor and delivery. IA can also be used to control long-term pain from illnesses, such as cancer.

Vertebral Column


Seek care immediately if:

  • Your catheter is still in place and you have bleeding, swelling, or fluid leaking from it.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have trouble thinking clearly.
  • You have a stiff neck, especially if you also have a fever.
  • You have numbness and tingling below your waist.
  • You have trouble moving your legs or feet.

Call your doctor or pain specialist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have severe neck or back pain.
  • You have a severe headache and it does not get better after you lie down or take pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


A headache is common after IA. You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Headache relief:

In addition to pain medicine, the following may help:

  • Rest as needed. Lie down until your headache is better.
  • Drink more liquids. You may need to drink more liquids for the first 12 to 24 hours following your procedure. This may help decrease your risk for a headache. Liquids containing caffeine may also decrease the pain. Do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Care for the insertion area:

Keep the area clean and dry for 24 hours. Cover the area with a small bandage for 1 or 2 days.

Follow up with your doctor or pain specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Intrathecal Analgesia (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.