The word “epidural” often makes people think of a woman giving birth, but the reality is that epidural injections can help reduce pain in a number of situations. It’s one of the most popular pain management tools at Integrated Pain Consultants. Epidurals might be tightly associated with childbirth these days, but these injections were not initially invented strictly for those in labor.
The very first epidural injections were first conceived in 1853, but it wasn’t until almost 100 years later that they became staples for women in childbirth. This is partially because a lot of (male) church leaders in centuries past believed that reducing pain during childbirth was blasphemous because it interfered with the natural experience. However, when Queen Victoria demanded chloroform during childbirth in the mid-nineteenth century, things began to change and church leaders quickly recanted their ideas.
Obviously, chloroform is not a safe solution as it can be deadly. A better approach was a local anesthetic that safely stopped the pain. Following the Queen’s attempt at self-medicating, the French surgeon Charles Gabriel Pravaz and Scottish doctor Alexander Wood independently created the very first hollow needle. Pravaz treated aneurysms with his creation while Wood focused on treating neuralgic pain. In 1869, just 16 years later, French doctor Charles Fauvel put in a footnote that he used the hollow needle to inject anesthesia (and a touch of cocaine) into a patient during surgery for pain reduction.
Cocaine is obviously no longer used, but this was the beginning of the epidural injection. In 1921, a Spanish surgeon created the single-shot lumbar epidural that became mainstream in 1933. In the past few decades a lot has changed with epidurals, but one thing has remained steadfast: they’ve always been an effective and much safer means of managing pain in all types of situations. Queen Victoria might have inspired doctors to develop epidurals, but it was ultimately a surgery where epidural injections were first used.
If you’d like to learn more about pain management including epidural injections, connect with Integrated Pain Consultants by calling (480) 626-2552 and schedule a detailed evaluation.