Spinal headaches occur in up to 40 percent of those who undergo a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) or spinal anesthesia. Both procedures require a puncture of the tough membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and, in the lower spine, the lumbar and sacral nerve roots.
During a spinal tap, a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is withdrawn from your spinal canal. During spinal anesthesia, medication is injected into your spinal canal to numb the nerves in the lower half of your body. If spinal fluid leaks through the tiny puncture site, you may develop a spinal headache.
Most spinal headaches — also known as post-lumbar puncture headaches — resolve on their own with no treatment. However, spinal headaches lasting 24 hours or more may need treatment.
Apr. 25, 2012
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- 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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