How bad is a spinal tap or lumbar puncture?
- 15 Nov 2012 by sara12345
- migraine, pain, sedation, colonoscopy, endoscopy, spinal tap
Especially interested in anyone who wasn't sedated. I've been awake for my endoscopy and colonoscopy with sedation which everyone else doesn't remember. I'm scheduled for one and am told that I will be given some mild sedation. But I'm a bit nervous, especially since I'll probably be awake for it. Wondering how much pain before and after have you experienced? Thanks for any feedback.
If I understood the doctor properly, it is to determine whether my spine is leaking, which changes the pressure in my head and then causes my migraines to get worse with the slightest physical exertion. For example, when I've got a really bad migraine, just getting up out of bed for 15 minutes makes it worse. And the rest of the time, even walking around the house to do watering makes it worse. Thanks again.
Added 15 Nov 2012:
Thinking about it more, the radiology dept said that I would be so sedated that I wouldn't be able to leave the hospital until about 3 hours later after the test. They clearly think that I will be in enough pain that they need to sedate me for the measurements that they are doing. I think my best plan is to write the director and my regular doctor about my concerns about being sedated at the same levels that did manage to sedate me in my successive endoscopies. I can't afford to wake up in the middle of it and jump. I woke up screaming in pain during my colonoscopy after telling the anesthesiologist how much I needed. He decided to undersedate me. I was in pain for months afterwards.
15 Nov 2012
I have had a spinal tap with absolutely NO sedation. It is not the worst thing I've been trough but I wouldnt put it on my list of fun things to do either! lol Sorry. It is no worse than getting an epidural if you have ever had one of those. The worst thing for you will be when or if they change pressure, it may feel uncomfortable giving you a headache and possibly some nausea too, then again, you may not feel much more than the stick in your spine which will feel like getting an epidural or a shot. I just had a basic tap to test the CSF-they didnt mess with changing pressure. It wasnt bad.
15 Nov 2012
Honestly I've had one with mild sedation and I don't even remember having it done. I can say that I could NOT be awake for my colonoscopy!! Everyone is different , but if you are planning to have mild sedation, it shouldn't be that bad, I had a spinal for a C-section and had no sedation for that and once they numbed me I only felt slight pressure when they inserted the needle, the only difference was for the spinal they inject meds and with the spinal tap thay take fluid out. I hope everything works out for you, I understand you being nervous anyone would be it's a scary procedure if you have never had it done. I hope they can find out what is causing your bad migraines, i get them too, but nothing like you do. Good luck! :)
15 Nov 2012
Anything with the spine can be so different for different people. There was a time where everybody was awake when they had one. Nobody thought anything about it. I have a phobia about needles-so I didn't like it. I actually jumped with the needle in my spine. If the doctors hadn't kept saying just one more second, I don't think that I would have jumped. Then I came out of it extremely quick. Considering that 99.99% of Americans over 50 that had spinal taps didn't have any problems, I just wouldn't worry in this day and age. If I can look at the needle and see serum disappearing in my body, or see syringes filling up with blood, I can handle it. The main thing is to follow instructions-keep your body still for the required time, etc.
15 Nov 2012
Hi, I have had a few spinal taps done before , and I have to say with each one it wasn't that bad. Each one was done with a local injection, then when it is done you have to lie flat for several hours after. But the problem I have had in the past is every time I have had a spinal tap I got a spinal headache, and then had to spend a week in the hospital because every time the fluid would just keep leaking. I remember having to have a patch done where I guess it is like a band aid, I only had that done once and I am not telling you this to scare you or anyone else, but because our hospital is a teaching one I said yes to an inexperienced doctor, and it was one of the most painful things to have done. Well I say done they could not finish putting the patch on because the trainee doctor made things worse and I was made to feel a baby because I wouldn't even let the other doctor finish putting the patch on. The leak stops eventually it just means it took me longer to recover. Take care and I really hope you have a better experience then me,Liz.
18 Nov 2012
I caught meningitis, and the doctors had to perform a spinal tap. I was knocked out for it with anesthesia, but they missed my spinal cord. Not once, not twice, but SEVEN times. After the procedure, morphine was put into my IV. That was also when I discovered that I have almost complete immunity to morphine, due to my father being allergic. Yet, overall, my back only hurt for about three days after I was released from the hospital.
18 Nov 2012
Hi Sara, you can here many horror stories about spinal taps, but most of them were in the past, not the present, when things have gotten better. I did research for Tee, who was scared about getting a spinal myelogram, and found out that nowadays it isn't bad at all. (Also my best friend had one too, and they didn't even remember). The reason you have to stay in the hospital for three hours afterwards is because you merely have to lie on your back completely to avoid any pain. I also believe that you have to lie still as possible for the next 24-48 hours on your back, (though that could be for a myelogram, not a spinal tap, or lumbar puncture) to keep from leakage happening. It is not painful. Tee was wonderfully surprised to find out that she had no problems at all. PQ her please!! A myelogram is much more invasive than a spinal tap, and takes much longer too. You have to go through x-rays and CT scans and then replace the fluid back from the dye.
You will be ok, I'm sure!! The worst part of any procedure is the anticipation. Try to not think about it, ok? It would be wonderful to find out what is causing the headaches!!
19 Nov 2012
My latest info from the clerk is that I won't be put out completely and will be able to communicate with the doctor during it. If it's not supposed to be so bad, I should be able to get through it--right? I'm worried about waking up in the middle of it and jump since I had a very bad experience of waking up during my colonoscopy that caused me pain for months afterwards.
19 Nov 2012
I had an epidural, and it didn't provide me any pain relief, and my top blood pressure soared over 200. Afterwards, I suffered for three months with dizziness/balance problems, headaches, hearing sound distortions, etc. You may not have any of these problems. Maybe check into the percentage of those that have difficulties with the spinals/epidurals. Is there a form of imagine that they can do to "see" the possible leakage? Take care. C.E.
19 Nov 2012
Somebody asked why can't they do a cat scan. To do a CAT scan they have to do a Milogram, where they inject iodine in the spine for contrast. At Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii, the staff refused to tell anybody about the iodine injections. They had patients tell the other patients what it was like. A paratrooper and a sailor told my son that it was real easy-no pain at all. But they added the patient that talked to them said it was hell on earth-and it took weeks to recover. It took over a month for my son to recover. They doped him up keep him from screaming. My son had to talk to the next patient-and my son said it was hell on earth. That marine told my son that he lied- it was worse than death-worse than boot camp- worse than battle. So both of them had their beds put next to each other and they screamed together.
So, they have to talk to some wimp and they tell him it's agony-they couldn't walk-my son hooked his toes on a bed rail, and laid with his head on the floor, and screamed. The nurses put pillows and padding on the floor in case he fell out. The wimp gets his milogram-the next day he's walking around, joking and flirting with the nurses. So the next patient came in. My son and the marine told how horrible it was-this scrawny wimp says that there's nothing to it. That guy went in and came out screaming- the wimp gets in his face-and the new patient grabs him by the neck and tries to choke him. So they had my son, the marine and the huge guy in their beds screaming. They put orange cones around my son's bed so nobody stepped on his head. The next 2 guys- why did you lie to us. Nothing to it, no head ache -no trouble walking or sitting or sleeping-They all had spinal damage and surgery. All of them had been in accidents. I'd sit on the floor, talk to my son and try not to cry.
16 May 2014
It is the worst thing ever. I would seriously recommend that you talk with the doctor who suggested a lumbar procedure to you, and talk about what happens if the hole in your spine that they will make doesn't patch up. This past summer I had symptoms of meningitis and went to see a doctor. I got the spinal tap, and a day later I literally couldn't get out of bed without vomitting. The pain in my head from brain fluid leaking and brain pressure changing was so bad that I was stuck in bed. I couldn't even lift my head up. Of course the doctor "forgot" to mention these side effects of the procedure. So, two days later I was back in the ER and had to get a blood patch. The headache was the worst pain I felt in my entire life. Please don't get it, or if you do, make sure that the doctor will patch it up for you.
1 Aug 2014
I should have updated my experience with the spinal tap. I was fully awake even though they said that they gave me a mild sedative. No pain at all during the procedure, but I had the WORST extreme head pain that I've ever had. Even when I had my major stroke, it wasn't so terrible. I could not lift my head up for 5 days. I should have gone in right away to have the blood patch, but when I called, they said that I should wait a few more days. And I would have to have gone to the ER which takes many hours to be seen until you are dying or having a stroke. So yes, you were very right with your advice.
5 Jun 2015
I have a high tolerance for pain, and I will tell you this was the worst procedure ever. No pain meds, no sedation and the worst pain I have ever experienced. My son is in medical school and I told him it is like a medieval procedure that should be banned. Sorry, just being honest. Give me natural childbirth any day over this.
8 Jun 2015
I had a spinal tap done and told how painful they were. Well, I had it done without sedation 5, yes 5, times in a row bc they couldn't get the fluid out of me. That meant 10 needles (lidocaine plus the lp needle)
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