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Readers Respond: Experience with lumbar punctures and advice for others

Responses: 144


Updated July 30, 2009

Lumbar Puncture Headache

I had a Lumbar Puncture Last Thursday, the pain fron the electric shocks that ran down both legs was bad enough, almost to the point that i didn't want to put my feet on the ground, even now 6 days later my legs are stiff, But the headaches will not go away, painkillers are not working. I sgree with an earlier post that 11 should be added to the pain scale, i would even go higer in the numbers. I already have pain from a car accident in my back and neck, but now i have this to add to it.
—Guest Anita


Wow! Today was my first LP and I hope I never EVER have to have another. It took two injections of the numbing agent and two attempts by the doctor to get the fluid. The first stick was done with me on my side in the fetal position...not good the pain ran down my left hip and brought me to the point of about to pass out. The second stick was done sitting up and was more tolerable. I am experiencing a mild headache, constipation and lower back and right hip pain. If I was to do it again I would demand to be put out! Vanessa, Belleview, Fl
—Guest Vanessa Bruno

Help for Headaches

As touched on previously, i as an RN can tell you if you get a severe headache call your healthcare provider or go to the ER and ask for a "blood patch." They take blood from your arm and patch the "hole" in your spinal column where the "leak" is which is what causes the severe headaches. I'll have my first LP Monday to help diagnose MS.
—Guest RN

Never again- would rather die first!!!

Had an LP back in 2005 to confirm my MS diagnosis. I'm sure the neuroradiologist who performed the LP is skilled, but after the LP, I had 2 consecutive days of VOMITING as soon as I took my head off the bed! Had to go in for a blood patch to seal the CSF leak. Worst experience in my life!
—Guest Mas

worse pain i ever experienced!!

my neuro doc wanted LP after MRI shown multiple inflammation areas in my brain and spine. Having had numerous operations in the past for a congenital hip prob I thought 'sure I can cope with that'. 5 times he tried and failed to get a sample and the pain was terrible for me!!! was glad i was still on crutches from a previous operation because it left me virtually unable to walk. Now wants to try it under x-ray guidance at a later date - after the 1st experience i flatly refuse!!!! :(
—Guest Carol


As I was hesitant to have the LP done - it was performed by my neurologist. Although he did miss three times it was not painful as people made me believe. And the clue to not getting the headache - lay down for the amount of time your dr tells you and you should not experience it Not that is is something I would want to routinely go through - but a positive attitude and tell yourself it has to be done -to confirm a diagnosis then just get it over with, also a mild sedative prior to the procedure, have confidence in whoever is performing the LP but most important adhering to the directions to lie flat on your back will ensure you will not get that dreaded headache. Overall it was not as bad as people would make you believe.
—Guest Debbie S

Stuck 6 times

I just had my 1st one yesterday. I was told to drink plenty of fluids(with caffine)...Needless to say..I am still awake @ 3:30am .. But here's the kicker. I went in...The Doc had me lie over on the bed.. I was 2nd for the Dr. but he had problems getting my needle in. His 1st & last went without a hitch for him. After he stuck me for the fifth(5th) time, he ws ready to give up & have the LP done with flouroscopy(radioligy) so the Doc could see the needle & such. I suggested to him to let me ball up in the "Fetal Possition" & it worked the very 1st time. I am also in pain in my hip still with a mild headache(so glad it isn't a migrane at this point). But I have taken thus far: 4 Loratabs @ 7.5,& 1 flexaril.. Yet still up & hurting. I hope not to get another one any time soon. But will if he says it is a necessity. I can guarrentee you it will be done via flouroscopy! I am not the kind of person who hates needles @ all.But I might be the next time. Just remember to get plenty to drink

lumbar puncture

I think one of the most difficult procedures we with MS must undergo is an LP (lumbar puncture). Necessary they may be, but fear also plays a huge factor in how well you may or may not respond. As a nurse, I thought it would be EZ, but I did feel the fear, first. The newest concept is to have the patient sit up, in a forward leaning position, rather than lying on their side. It always helps to drink plenty of fluids, and then make sure you visit the BR first, to be sure you are empty and relaxing. Breathe through your mouth, working on relaxing your thoughts. It isn't easy, but it can be done. TALK to the MD doing the procedure, and if you have questions, make sure you ask and have answers before they begin. I have had about 4 LP's now, and no longer fear them. It is a question of how cooperative you can be, by strictly following post procedure instructions to avoid sudden movement, or to walk without assistance. RELAXATION DOES WORK. IMHO. kattface
—Guest kattface

Lumbar Punch no 2

I had my first lumbar punch in 2007 to confirm MS, which i do have. i had the proceedure on the wednesday and was told i would be ok within a couple of days, wrong, i was flying to Dominican Republic onthe Tuesday and felt so unwell i had to cancel my holiday. My headache was so bad i thought my head was going to split open, this went on for 3 weeks and i was bed ridden the whole time. I have just had another LP 2 days ago as i suffered severe pains in my head and was told i had a suspected bleed onthe brain. The lumbar confirmed no bleed but 2 days later i am still in bed with a headache, not as bad as before but bad enough to put me flat on my back in bed. LP is not a proceedure you should take lightly. be prepared for days of bedrest.
—Guest Yvonne

bad as I feared..but recoverd quickly

I had a lumbar puncture on Dec 17th to check for MS (I do have it). The proceedure was as bad as I was afraid of... hurt like the dickens when they did the proceedure and laying flat in the hospital bed for 6 hours after absolutly KILLED me. (back ached so bad I was almost in tears) Went home and stayed in bed for 18 more hrs. Never got the headache...and two days later went away on vacation. Two days after that I was skiing. (One hour after starting to ski.. I STOPPED!) My legs hurt so bad I couldn't ski the rest of the week. :( Doctor said I'll have to have an MRI every six months....Hope I NEVER have to have another lumbar puncture!

Guess I have 2 get another blood patch

I had HORRIBLE headaches after my Spinal Tap, that I thought that I would just let get better on their own. 3 weeks later, I went in for a blood patch!!! I decided to let Christmas pass, and yet another 2 weeks ...but THIS IS THE WORST PAIN ...ever {& I've suffered from 24/7 nerve pain in both of my feet & legs for over 8 years! I have also had 3 children ...all naturally ...with no yelling & no crying!!! These headaches are soooo bad though
—Guest Julie V

Lp not bad at all

I didn't feel a thing my neuro recommended drinking drinks with lots of caffeine and lots of fluids to avoid headaches. He also said that if a headaches becomes extremely strong to go to the er. He could perform a procedure to stop the the pain. I must say that I never got the headaches.
—Guest Blanca

spinal tap experience

they used flouroscopy on me and could not remove any .anyone else with similar results
—Guest pat

I could not let them do it

Back in 1997 i was due to have an lp as part of my diagnosis for ms but told my consultant i was too scared to go through with it, so he said to help me he would prescribe 2 valium to be taken the night before to help me sleep and another 2 to be taken at home before i went to the hospital for the lp. When i arrived at the ward for them to start the test i told the doctor that far from being relaxed i had not slept at all the night before and the dose taken earlier that morning had no effect either. So i was given another 2 valium and told to wait another hour which i did. They came to see if i could allow them to do the test and again the drug had not touched me, so another 2 valium were taken and another hour went by and still they had no effect. The doctor decided that under the circumstances i would not be able to have the lp but i would have to stay at hospital all day in case the valium kicked in once i had left and i could have collapsed! An mri confirmed i had ms anyway!


I had my diagnostic LP without local, and if you have a good neurologist, it is FINE
—Guest Trish

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