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Lumbar Puncture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

A lumbar puncture is a procedure used to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear, protective fluid that flows around the brain and inside the spinal canal. A lumbar puncture is usually done to check for an infection, inflammation, bleeding, or other conditions that affect the brain. It may also be done to remove CSF to reduce pressure in the brain.


Seek care immediately 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 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.

Call your doctor if:

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


You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider 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.

Care for a post-lumbar puncture headache:

You may develop a headache during the first few hours after your procedure 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 more liquid than usual after your lumbar puncture. Ask how much liquid is right for you. Caffeine may be used to treat a headache. Drinks such as coffee, tea, or some soft drinks have caffeine. Caffeine is also available over the counter in tablet form. Ask about using caffeine to treat your headache. Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can make your headache worse.
  • Lie down or rest to ease your headache pain.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.