Lumbar puncture - Side effects 

Side effects of a lumbar puncture 

Lumbar punctures are generally very low-risk procedures. However, they sometimes cause short-lived side effects.

Back pain

Some people experience some lower back pain after a lumbar puncture. This is usually felt in and around the area where the needle was inserted. 

In most cases, the pain will ease after a few days and it can be treated with painkillers such as paracetamol if necessary.

Headache

headache is a common side effect of a lumbar puncture, usually developing within 24 to 48 hours of the procedure.

Most people describe a dull or throbbing pain at the front of their head. This can sometimes spread to the neck and shoulders. The pain is usually worse while standing or sitting up, and is usually relieved by lying down. 

The headache can usually be treated with simple painkillers such as paracetamol. Some people have also reported that drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, have helped reduce the discomfort. 

If post-lumbar puncture headaches persist, are particularly severe, or are accompanied by sickness and vomiting, the hospital that carried out the procedure should be contacted.

Other risks

There is a small risk of a lumbar puncture leading to bleeding inside the head, although this is very rare. In most cases, the benefits of the lumbar puncture far outweigh this risk. The likelihood of a lumbar puncture causing an infection in the spine is also very small. 

However, you should seek medical advice if you develop a temperature or sensitivity to bright lights, or if the lumbar puncture site becomes painful and swollen. 

Page last reviewed: 11/03/2013

Next review due: 11/03/2015

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Comments

The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Wesley821 said on 06 September 2014

I had a lumber puncture back in 2007... It's given me no end of pain and discomfort.
I wasn't told of the side effects and it was attempted 3 times by a doctor who cocked it up before a neurologist finally turned up and did it with no problems.

I've had to take many weeks off work since 2007 because of this procedure and it's getting worse.

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pontechick said on 02 June 2014

My father has had one of these last week and it took them 42 attempts to extract fluid and since he has been in pain with his back.... is this normal even after a optic stroke?

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belper girl said on 18 October 2013

I think people should be warned about any lasting affects from having a lumbar procedure performed. I have had three procedures carried out. The first one a doctor took six attempts to extract fluid, causing severe bruising, with severe head pains and vomiting. My second procedure had no problems. But my third procedure took three attempts. Having reported back weakness, I have been advised that I may have scar tissue damage. But with other complications, no one will admit to any links. People have to be fully informed about any complications, or side affects as it very important.

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belper girl said on 18 October 2013

I think people should be warned about any lasting affects from having a lumbar procedure performed. I have had three procedures carried out. The first one a doctor took six attempts to extract fluid, causing severe bruising, with severe head pains and vomiting. My second procedure had no problems. But my third procedure took three attempts. Having reported back weakness, I have been advised that I may have scar tissue damage. But with other complications, no one will admit to any links. People have to be fully informed about any complications, or side affects as it very important.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

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