In most of the cases, spinal headaches affect people who have taken a lumbar puncture or have had spinal anesthesia. In both the cases, the membrane surrounding the spinal cord is ruptured. However, the incidence of spinal headache is rare as the quality of needles injected is improved. In a lumbar puncture or a spinal tap, cerebrospinal fluid is taken from the spinal canal for testing. In case of spinal anesthesia, medication is given in the spinal canal by way of injection to keep the nerves in sleep mode temporarily in the lower half of the body.
In case there is leakage of the spinal fluid from the ruptured part, the pressure of the spinal fluid on the brain is reduced and this leads to a headache. Spinal headache may occur after 12 to 15 hours of undergoing either spinal tap or taking spinal anesthesia. In case a person is injected epidural anesthesia and in doing so, the spinal cord gets ruptured, then the person can suffer from spinal headache. Spinal headaches get cured on their own without any treatment. In case, the spinal headache lasts for more than a day, then it is better to consult your doctor.
Spinal headaches could be slight to severe. The pain aggravates in sitting and standing position and eases in the resting position. You could also have the following symptoms along with Spinal headache -
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred Vision
Women are more prone to spinal headaches as compared to men. It is more common for the age group of 20 and 40 years. The chances of spinal headache increases when bigger needles are used and there are multiple punctures in the membrane surrounding the spinal cord.
Consult your doctor if the headache occurs after spinal tap or spinal anesthesia and the headache persists even after 24 hours. Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) may be advised by the doctor to rule out other possibilities of the headache.
Treatments and drugs for Spinal Headaches -
Pain killers and rest may be advised by the doctor. Treatment for spinal headaches begins conservatively. Further treatment may be necessary, in case the headache persists after 24 hours. Following treatment may be recommended by the doctor -
- Epidural blood patch: A small amount of your blood is injected into place over the ruptured hole. The blood clots and the hole is sealed by the blood clot. The pressure of the spinal fluid on the brain becomes normal and the headache is eased.
- Intravenous caffeine. Caffeine is directly injected into the blood. This relieves the pain by contracting blood vessels in your head.
- Epidural saline. In this treatment, saline water is injected into the gap outside the membrane covering the spinal cord. This exerts pressure on the place of spinal tap and stops the leakage of the cerebrospinal fluid. The saline solution can be easily absorbed by the body. Hence, the cerebrospinal leakage may continue after some time and the spinal headache may recur, rendering the whole treatment futile. Hence, this method of treatment is not much in use.