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Readers Respond: Experience with lumbar punctures and advice for others

Responses: 139


Updated July 30, 2009

Have you ever had a lumbar puncture (aka “spinal tap”)? For most people on their way to an MS diagnosis, this is one of the tests performed. What was your lumbar puncture like? Was the procedure better or worse than you thought it would be? Did you get a headache afterwards or have any other side effects? Do you have any advice for people going in for a lumbar puncture to make the experience a little more pleasant?

Lumbar puncture

I had one as part of my diagnosis. The post puncture headache was awful 10/10 for pain. Was told to take a paracetamol if I had a headache. Would have taken a gun if I had one. Went to work the next day. I don't know how I got home. My neighbour, who is an anaesthetist, told me to go to bed and drink strong coffee. He also got me to wrap my abdomen tightly with a cloth. He said that those performing lumbar punctures have no idea what they are doing. I have refused to have any more.
—Guest Linda


Go SWIMMING!! I got an LP and all I wanted to do was lay prone and not do anything. But after three days I was stir crazy and restless couldn't stand laying in bed but couldn't stand getting up. My husband recommended swimming. I could still be prone, but active. The pressure and buoyancy of the water instantly relieved the headache and I was able to expend some energy without straining. The relief lasted hours. Resist the urge to suffer in bed GO SWIMMING!!
—Guest Lena


I had my LP done years ago I was nervous to have it done. The procedure itself wasn't that bad however i was told that I could develop a headache up to 24-48 hrs after the procedure I thought this would be mild but to my dismay it was the most excruciating, horrific pain I had ever experienced. I felt as if my shoulders and head were going to come apart. The pain was totally unbearable even with pain medicine, I didn't know what to do so I called my doctor & he told me to give it a few more days. Day after day I wondered when I would see some sign of relief finally after at least 2 weeks of suffering there was relief it seemed as if the headache was slightly disappearing. All I know is it was a very painful ordeal I had astiff neck, pain in my neck, head, and spine the only thing that seemed to relieve it was lying flat on my back, and soaking in a hot bath. All I remember is it being the worst pain I have encountered never want to have another one done. My advice get a second opinion
—Guest Tori

Post LP Headache

I had two spinal taps and ended up with the most horrible pain/headache EVER. I have a very high pain tolerance, so I knew something was wrong. I had to lie down in the ER because it was that bad. Anyway, Huntington Memorial did an awesome job and gave me a blood patch and it went away. If you get a PLPH, ask for a blood patch, if nothing else works!
—Guest armeegrl

Lumbar Puncture effects 2 weeks on.

I got a bus home and was fine that evening. Next day I deliberately slept in ... When I tried to get out of bed around 1pm It was quite frightening. Like a headrest in a car, my head felt like it was only attached to my body by 2 prongs and the prongs couldn't hold the weight! The headache at the back of my head was severe - I tired to walk and found myself like a limbo dancer trying to keep my upper body horizontal as that's clearly what it was asking to do! Laying flat was the only relief and I had backache between my shoulder blades. This stayed the same for 4 days. The next 4 days I managed a bit of walking about but still needed to lay flat to get relief although the headache did ease a bit. It took 8 days to feel safe to venture down the road. 2 weeks on It still hurts if I cough and the whole time I have felt this weird nausea that I've never felt before. I'm not able to enjoy food, I keep needing to burp and my stomach feels uncomfortable. Just generally feel YUK.

Lumbar Puncture

I done lp abt a week ago bt I still feel dizzy and I still hv headache cnt face the light and nausea,dnt knw what to do now because the doctor discharged me frm hospital bt m not feeling better,I am always dizzy plz help what can I do
—Guest Thuli

My lumbar puncture experience

Hi I was taking into hospital after suspected idiopathic intracranial hypertension they wanted to do a LP to confirm my opening pressure was high. My first LP consisted of 5 needles all blind the worse experience ever! They then sent me the next day for it to be X-ray guided that was another 4 needles and they hit a nerve I am still suffering with my left hip and leg now! Finally I was referred to another hospital 2weeks later who again did it X-ray guided and I cannot fault him!! I am still waiting for my results.
—Guest Caroline

All Worked Up

I was worried sick from reading about other people's experiences. I do feel for all of you who have had a bad experience. I had my procedure done yesterday 1/8/14 My own lumbar puncture was a walk in the park. They used Lidocaine around the area of the puncture. I felt very little pain, just a little pressure. They used x ray to guide the needle, afterward they had me lay down for two hours and then sent me home. I did get a bad headache on the way home but as soon as I got home and laid back down my headache got better. The next day I still have a headache but not as bad as the first day. I think it's only natural to write comments when you have a bad experience that's why I felt it was important to write about my own experience. Everyone is different and I wish you all the best. Thank you to everyone at the Aurora clinic in Occonomowoc WI. for making my lumbar puncture process as comforting and painless as possible.
—Guest Joey S


Well were do I start ok I myself have a history of valley fever 8 years.so I have to get this Lps every 2 months.if you ever gat one you can under Stan me a lot better.lps more like pain but you don't have to suffer to long.here's what I do about 15 min before i get the lp i drink a Starbucks something about the caffeine.when lp finished you well file the pain coming on.that's the Sian to grab one more caffeine drink and one vicodin a 5/50.works very well for me whent from 2 to 3 days of pain to 3 to 4 hours.
—Guest aka


LP on a Friday so I could have the weekend to relax and be fine for work Monday. Saturday...could not hold my head up without the worst headache ever and violently vomiting. I really thought I was dying. Went to ER...horrible having to sit up, I just wanted to lay down. Blood patch done in ER. Went home a few hours later and in bed. That was Saturday. It is now THURSDAY night and I am still in bed. I cannot drive, I cannot bathe, I cannot work....this is by far the worst experience of my entire life. These pain pills do not work, they make me sick because my head hurts to sit up and eat..so I don't eat much. Doc said I could go in for another blood patch, but that is all he can do for me. ??? This has been, by far, the worst ever. Just be prepared to possibly miss a week or more of work, and have the worst headache ever in your entire life. The procedure itself didn't hurt...........IT IS AFTERWARDS!!!!!!
—Guest Lorie

perfectly good dr, still in pain!

Went today for my very first lumbar puncture. I have 3 children born by c-section with epidural or spinal block for pain, so the stick, while painful was as expected. I have followed my drs orders completely. Stayed at the hospital for 2 or so hours lying still on my back. When I got up the first time I had pain radiate down my hip and rear to the knee. Nurse said this is expected if it gets bad or severe headaches, call Dr or go to er. It is now 9 hours later, and I have spent the bulk of this time lying down, but I have a headache, and the pain in my right hip and leg is still pretty bad. Now it hurts if I lay it the wrong way. I am having allergy issues and so am coughing some, this causes a nice pain in the top of my head. The doctor did not miss the area, I believe the fluoroscope was used, and the pain during the test was not severe. So why am I having trouble now?
—Guest Donna

LP best friend

so my bestfriend has had cramps and twitches in her hands and feet since she was 12 and she has recently just had a lumpar puncture. A day after she threw up and came to school anyway she was so pale and then she kept throwing up so they admitted her to princess royal hospital and now shes sick and weak and has a horrible head ache and cant see bright lights without feeling ill she is hooked up to a drip to keep her hydrated but they dont know whats happened really want her to feel better she is only 15!!!
—Guest -Becky

Worst experience ever

Went in for suspected ear infection drs wanted to do lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis had I known the after effects I wouldn't have agreed the lumbar puncture itself was painless took like 2nins it's the after headache that has me going crazy I am 25 in I feel near death whatever explains the worst pain.... I can't lift up w/o feeling a headache one day my headache seems gone the next it's back... I don't no if maybe I haven't rested long enough n even these Vicodin pills aren't a relief! I'm going to try rest for 2 more days max before I go to a ER but after reading about blood patches I am not to excited about going to have one if I can overcome these headache without one.... Overall this is worst experience/ recovery then epidural do not be tricked if u really don't need to do it don't do it but it is always better to no if something wrong with you then wonder.... But because all my test were clear I am regretful of under going this procedure!
—Guest Stockton

different response to LP

Let me start by saying I was INCREDIBLY nervous about getting the procedure. I was sitting up, none of the numbing shots hurt really at all. When she started the tap, it didn't hurt really, but I did feel extreme pressure. As soon as she started draining the fluid (which I had no idea took up to 20 minutes!), my body started reacting strongly. I started sweating, hyperventilating, and feeling an extreme feeling of faint. And I'm not talking about a dewy face sweat, there was literally drops of sweat coming off my face and hands. The nurse helped me calm down, but the feeling stayed pretty much the whole time. As soon as the needle was removed, the feeling went away, but I was pretty upset, it was so intense. Never heard anyone else explain their experience in this way, wondering if it is normal? Anyways, no headache, 2 days out now. Back was a bit sore the day of, but feels pretty good now.
—Guest Nicole

sick as a dog

I had a LP on Monday today is Thursday and I still feel sick and nauseas head will not stop hurting drinking 5 hr energy and coffee and BC powder . The first day I was fine the second day just ok third day HELP I cant even turn over in bed because of the head ache . My Dr said " you probably won't get a headache " and I belived her silly me :(
—Guest Lola
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