Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Spinal Tap Headache Overview

Another name for Spinal Tap Headache is Spinal Headache.

What is a spinal headache?
A person with a spinal headache has developed pain after a spinal tap or after spinal anesthesia. During a spinal tap, spinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal. Medication is injected into the spinal canal during spinal anesthesia. In each procedure, a small puncture is made through the tough membrane that surrounds the spinal canal. A spinal headache may occur if spinal fluid leaks from the puncture. About 30 percent of those who have a spinal tap or spinal anesthesia suffer spinal headaches.

What are the symptoms of a spinal headache?
The main symptom of a spinal headache is a worsening headache within 72 hours after the procedure. The headache may worsen while coughing or standing, and it may improve while lying flat. Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, or dizziness.

How does the doctor treat a spinal headache?
Treatment for a spinal headache may include bed rest, caffeine, narcotic pain medication, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Additional treatment may include a blood patch.

Continue to Spinal Tap Headache Incidence

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Spinal Tap Headache References
  1. Despond O, Meuret P, Hemmings G. Postdural puncture headache after spinal anaesthesia in young orthopaedic outpatients using 27-g needles. Can J Anaesth. 1998 Nov;45(11):1106-9. [10021962]
  2. Halpern S, Preston R. Postdural puncture headache and spinal needle design. Metaanalyses. Anesthesiology. 1994 Dec;81(6):1376-83. [7992906]
  3. Lybecker H, Moller JT, May O, Nielsen HK. Incidence and prediction of postdural puncture headache. A prospective study of 1021 spinal anesthesias. Anesth Analg. 1990 Apr;70(4):389-94. [2316881]
  4. Vallejo MC, Mandell GL, Sabo DP, Ramanathan S. Postdural puncture headache: a randomized comparison of five spinal needles in obstetric patients. Anesth Analg. 2000 Oct;91(4):916-20. [11004048]
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