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Lumbar Puncture


Lumbar puncture (LP) is a procedure in which a needle is inserted in your back and into your spinal canal. This is usually done to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to check for an infection, inflammation, bleeding, or other conditions that affect the brain. CSF is a clear, protective fluid that flows around the brain and inside the spinal canal. LP may also be done to remove CSF to reduce pressure in the brain.



  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and lowers a fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
  • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease severe pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take more pain medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Post-lumbar puncture headache:

You may develop a headache during the first few hours after your LP that may last for several days. The headache may be mild to severe and may get worse when you sit or stand. The following may help ease a post-lumbar puncture headache:

  • Drink plenty of liquids: You should drink more liquid than usual after your LP. Ask how much liquid is right for you. Caffeine may be used to treat a headache. Drinks, such as coffee, tea, or some sodas, have caffeine. Caffeine is also available over the counter in tablet form. Ask about using caffeine to treat your headache. Do not drink alcohol.
  • Lie down: If you have a headache after your lumbar puncture, it may be helpful to lie down and rest.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a severe headache that does not get better after you lie down.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a stiff neck or have trouble thinking clearly.
  • Your legs, feet, or other parts below the waist feel numb, tingly, or weak.
  • You have bleeding or a discharge coming from the area where the needle was put into your back.
  • You have severe pain in your back or neck.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.