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Old 06-18-2009, 02:52 AM
 
Location: Hawaii/Alabama
1,682 posts, read 3,127,635 times
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Every single spinal tap that I have ever had was very painful. I do not understand why they are incapable of numbing the patient properly before the procedure. I unfortunately, have been the 'guinea pig' for med students (until I learned to actually ASK if they were competent) and it was truly miserable.

Stay as flat as possible after the test, as someone said before you could end up with a wicked headache that will make you want to pound your head against a wall. I would certainly stay home the next day. If you are pain free and experience no problems then count your lucky stars and enjoy your day at home! I wish you the best of luck and steady hands to the Doc!
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Moon Over Palmettos
5,975 posts, read 17,499,496 times
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Never had a spinal tap but my only advice is to not ever look at the needles for these types of procedures. My hubby described to me how big the needle was for my first amnio and I was horrified at his description! So during my second pregnancy, I didn't bother looking at it. It was enough seeing the outline on the screen. Same thing with the epidural...did not want to look at that needle. The procedure comes with enough anxiety and discomfort; no need to add on to it with a visual.

Hope yours is relatively pain-free. I think I'd take that over a cortisone shot.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
1,123 posts, read 4,783,186 times
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Thank you for all your replies! The needle doesn't bother me. I just hate having to take almost 2 days off of work . I will take the advice to drink lots of water and hopefully I will be fine.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:07 PM
 
3,647 posts, read 9,552,234 times
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I had one done year ago in the ER while having a migraine. I didn't feel much pain. I was unsteady on my feet because of the migraine "hangover" that night, but the next morning, I was fine for work, though a little tired.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:45 AM
 
1 posts, read 3,861 times
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I had one done on wed, it wasn't painful just uncomfortable. After the procedure I had to lie on my back for 4 hours to aviod getting a headache. The doctor advised me to eat chocolate and drink coke to boost energy levels afterwards. Very stiff and the area sore the next day. You will definetley need 2-3 days off afterwards.
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:32 AM
 
7 posts, read 30,174 times
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I am scheduled to have a 2-level myelogram (cervical and lumbar) to check for lesions and/or bone spurs and a lumbar puncture (to check my spinal fluid for multiple sclerosis) on Monday, July 19th. I am really nervous, I have a spinal cord stimulator implanted for RSD of my legs and feet and was told by my neurologist that there is an increased risk with the stimulator.
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Cartersville, GA
1,254 posts, read 2,952,449 times
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I had dozens of LPs as a child, over a 4 year period, in the course of treatment for Leukemia. If the physician removes some spinal fluid for analysis, there is often a slight change in pressure inside the spinal column, since the column is airtight. This change in pressure is what tends to cause headaches. The headache is the worst I have ever had. However, I did not get a headache if I stayed flat for at least 12 hours or so. The physicians who performed the procedures on me did at least a dozen or so LPs per day, and they knew what they were doing. If spinal fluid is removed, not even an experienced physician can prevent the change in pressure and the consequent possibility of a headache.

The procedure is not typically painless, but it's common nowadays to use local anesthesia, which helps significantly. I have had plenty of LPs where the minor pain from the subcutaneous anesthesia injection was the worst part of it. I still think the mere thought of a needle going into my spinal column is far worse than the pain itself.

I would certainly take the day off. The aforementioned suggestion of staying hydrated is also a very good one. Lastly, make sure the physician is the only one who sees that needle.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Cary, NC
502 posts, read 1,104,015 times
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I had one a few years ago and was terrified by unsolicited "advice" from those who had never had an LP.

The doctor will give you an injection of a local anesthetic, which will burn for a bit. The procedure itself is not painful, more like a sensation of pressure. DO NOT look at the needle! I saw it afterwards and am glad I did not see it prior. You will likely either be curled up on your side, or hunched forward holding onto a pillow or other object (as I was) during the procedure.

The thinner you are, the quicker the procedure will be.

Make sure you lay flat afterwards. I believe I was told to lay flat for 48 hours. A headache is common as the brain literally floats in fluid, the very same fluid that was extracted from your spine. It takes a few days for your body to replace spinal fluid.

Being a thin women in my 20's predisposed me to a post-LP headache that required an epidural "blood patch." A blood patch is not usually necessary for most patients.

The next few days I felt like I had been "whacked" across the back. Not terribly painful, but uncomfortable.

All-in-all, an LP is not as bad as it sounds and its importance as a diagnostic tool far exceeds any discomfort.

Best of luck!

Lumbar Puncture
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,786 posts, read 55,416,902 times
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I had one some years ago. What I remember is the boring wait of lying flat in the hospital after it was over. No real pain during the procedure. I did not get a headache but I think maybe it just depends on how much they take it - mine was for a myelogram (spelling?) so they put dye in, didn't tkae fluid out.

Last edited by SouthernBelleInUtah; 07-13-2010 at 03:26 PM..
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
22,960 posts, read 27,775,427 times
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Post spinal tap headache is due not so much to the amount of fluid removed as it is to whether the fluid continues to leak out through the hole made in the dura (the sac containing the spinal fluid), by the needle. If the headache is severe and does not quickly resolve, the blood patch can be done; a small amount of the patient's own blood is placed in the space outside the dura to close the hole. The blood clots and essentially forms a small plug in the hole, almost like an internal scab. The hole seals and the leak stops. The blood is reabsorbed by the body. Although the needle used looks wicked, that is because of its length. The diameter is very small, in order to leave a smaller hole in the dura.

Being overweight makes the procedure technically more difficult: the sac is further away from the skin and the landmarks used to identify the proper place to put the needle are more difficult to identify.

The patient can help by curling up, as another poster described. This opens the space between the vertebrae and makes more room for the needle. Also, do not move! This can be difficult to do if you get anxious and agitated. If you know that procedures make you nervous, ask for something to help you relax.

There is an anesthetic cream called Emla, that can be placed on the skin to numb it. This frequently means you won't feel even the needle prick for the local anesthetic for the deeper tissues.

The person doing the procedure needs to be patient and allow the anesthetic time to work. Do not be afraid to ask how experienced the practitioner is, and after two or three attempts with no success, ask if someone else could give it a try. And bless those who are willing to give a novice the chance to learn. That is the only way we will get new doctors trained. Inanimate models are great for practicing, but there has to be the first live patient for everyone.

There really should not be a lot of pain afterward; much like a needlestick anywhere. A little sore and maybe some bruising.

OP: Good luck, and I hope you get good news.
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