Spinal headaches are caused by leakage of spinal fluid through a puncture hole in the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. This leakage decreases the pressure exerted by the spinal fluid on the brain and spinal cord, which leads to a headache.
Spinal headaches typically appear within 12 to 24 hours after a spinal tap or spinal anesthesia. Sometimes epidural anesthesia may lead to a spinal headache as well. Although epidural anesthetic is injected just outside the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord, a spinal headache is possible if the membrane is unintentionally punctured.
Apr. 25, 2012
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- Primary headache disorders, including migraine. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm#142883138. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Post-lumbar puncture and other low-pressure headaches. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec16/ch216/ch216e.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Guideline summary NGC-4514. National Guideline Clearinghouse. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=8102. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Boonmak P, et al. Epidural blood patching for preventing and treating post-dural puncture headache (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. 2010;1:1.
- Basurto Ona X, et al. Drug therapy for treating post-dural puncture headache (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. 2011;8:1.
- Lavi R, et al. Lumbar puncture: It is time to change the needle. European Neurology. 2010;64:108.
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