how painful is a spinal tap

Are Spinal Taps Painful?

Spinal Tap (called Lumbar puncture) is normally performed in an outpatient center or a hospital. It is quite complex procedure help get valuable information about number of health conditions to proceed with proper treatment later one. In this article we give you some ideas about the procedure and understanding about patient’s feelings – is it painful and how much.

Spinal taps might be done to:

  • Gather cerebrospinal fluid for laboratory analysis
  • Measure the pressure of your cerebrospinal fluid
  • Inject back anesthetics, chemotherapy drugs or other medications
  • Inject dye (myelography) or radioactive compounds (cisternography) into cerebrospinal fluid to make diagnostic images of the fluid’s circulation

Information collected from a lumbar puncture can assist diagnose:

  • Major bacterial, fungal and viral infections, consisting of meningitis, sleeping sickness and syphilis
  • Bleeding around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage).
  • Specific cancers including the brain or spinal cord.
  • Particular inflammatory conditions of the nerve system, such as several sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Is Spinal Tap Procedure Painful?

Anything with the spine can be so different for different people. There was a time where everyone was awake when they had one. Nobody thought anything about it.

Some patients experience serious pain described as “worst one in their life”, others have less pain because of needle didn’t “strike” nerve and proper local anesthesia.

But, again, the procedure is normally painful, requires support from someone from your relatives in the room apart of good doctor and proper anasthesia.

Here are parts of patients’ comments about feeling during spinal tap procedure:

  • My husband was holding my hand and he might see the appearance of terror on my face as it was taking place. On a pain scale of 1-10 this was a 100!!! The Doctor kept repeating that this had never occurred prior to and he would need to try once again, at this point my husband informed him that he needed to offer me a local and I was sobbing. I had two nurses holding me down and informing me not to swear as I remained in an open ward. I was provided a local anesthetic and after that another lumbar puncture and when again he couldn’t get any fluid and the pressure was 1. This was less painful at the point of entry but I had referred pain practically everywhere over my body (specifically my groin, neck, shoulders and legs) and my right leg was going into spasms when he was digging around touching the nerves. Lastly he handled to get the fluid which was coming out very slowly to begin with but then started to accelerate (thankfully) and the pressure increased to 24. The entire procedure took just over 30 minutes. (Nicky)
  • I am 16 and have been having an unidentified problem with my health so they chose to try a lumbar puncture to see if anything turned up. While my lumbar puncture wasn’t as bad as yours, I likewise had a dreadful time. The doctor kept aiming to get the fluid but for some reason he wasn’t able to. He kept stabbing my back and it harmed like no other! It was truly a problem. At one point then he believed he had it but when he put television on to get the fluid, then to his discouragement, nothing came out. During that whole time then I was sobbing since of the awful pain. After wards my lower back was in deep pain. That had to do with 2 months ago and I am still having issues with my lower back. (Ann)
  • Hi, I have had a few spinal taps done before, and I have to say with every one it wasn’t that bad. Every one was done with a local injection, then when it is done you need to lie flat for numerous hours after. However the problem I have had in the past is every time I have had a spinal tap I got a spine headache, then had to spend a week in the hospital due to the fact that every time the fluid would simply keep leaking. I remember needing to have actually a patch done where I think it resembles a band help, I only had actually that done when and I am not informing you this to terrify you or anybody else, but due to the fact that our health center is a teaching one I said yes to an unskilled doctor, and it was among the most painful things to have done. Well I state done they might not finish putting the spot on due to the fact that the trainee doctor made things even worse and I was made to feel a baby since I would not even let the other doctor surface putting the spot on. The leak stops eventually it just implies it took me longer to recover. (Liz)

How Is Spinal Tap Performed?

  • An anesthetic is injected into your lower back to numb the puncture site before the needle is placed. The local anesthetic will sting briefly as it’s injected.
  • A thin, hollow needle is placed between the two lower vertebrae (lumbar area), through the spinal membrane (dura) and into the back canal. You may feel pressure in your back during this part of the procedure
  • As soon as the needle remains in place, you may be asked to alter your position a little.
  • The cerebrospinal fluid pressure is measured, a small amount of fluid is withdrawn, and the pressure is measured again. If required, a drug or compound is injected.
  • The needle is eliminated, and the puncture site is covered with a bandage.

The procedure usually lasts about 45 minutes. Your doctor may recommend lying down after the procedure.

After Spinal Taps

  • Plan to rest. Don’t participate in difficult activities the day of your procedure. You might return to work if your job doesn’t need you to be physically active. Discuss your activities with your doctor if you have concerns.
  • Take a pain medication for back pain. A nonprescription pain-relieving medication that contains acetaminophen can help in reducing headache or back pain.

Last modified: November 9, 2017

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