Back pain years after a spinal tap
August 05, 2022

A spinal tap is a fluid test that surrounds you and protects your spine and brain. Your doctor may have performed this test to check for infection. It is sometimes done to relieve pressure on fluid or to look for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

You may feel tired, and your back may ache where the needle went in (piercing area). You may have a headache for a day or two. Taking more fluids, taking painkillers, and lying down for a few hours after surgery may help reduce headaches. Some people also have trouble sleeping for a day or two. However, in some conditions patients may also feel back pain years after a spinal tap which is completely normal. In the following article, we have discussed everything about this issue. Which will help you find out the cause and treatment.

What is a Lumbar Puncture?

Lumbar puncture (LP) insertion of a small needle into your spine so that a sample of fluid that cleanses the brain and spinal cord is taken for testing. The fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and is constantly replenished; if a small sample of this liquid is taken it is changed immediately.

Why do I need Lumbar Puncture?

CSF testing can give your doctors information about how the brain and spinal cord work. When this is combined with history, testing, and scan results, lumbar piercing can sometimes help diagnose various emotional conditions. It also allows CSF pressure to be measured to see if it is within the normal range.

What are the possible risks?

Although lumbar piercing (spinal tap) often seems safe, it does carry some risks. These include:

  • Post-lumbar puncture head. About 25% of people who have lumbar punctures develop headaches afterward due to fluid leaking into nearby muscles.

  • Headaches usually start a few hours to two days after the procedure and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Headaches usually occur when sitting or standing and resolve after sleep. Acute lumbar headaches can take several hours to a week or more.

  • Back pain. You may feel pain or tenderness in your lower back after the procedure. The pain may come out behind your legs.

  • Bleeding. Bleeding may occur near the perforation site or, rarely, in the epidural area.

  • Brainstem herniation. Increased pressure within the skull due to a brain tumor or other space-based lesion can lead to brain compression after a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is released. To prevent this abnormal complication, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is usually performed before lumbar piercing to detect any signs of ulcer space leading to increased intracranial pressure. A detailed examination of the nerves can also help to remove the vital wound that is taking place. However, if you have any past back pain history related to dorsalgia. Things may vary.

What Is Dorsalgia?

The word dorsalgia comes from “dorsal,” which means back, and “algia,” which means pain. Dorsalgia generally refers to back or spine pain.

However, while dorsalgia includes spinal-related pain like lower back pain, mid back pain, and sciatica pain, it does not suffer from scoliosis or lordosis

What are its 6 types?

These are listed here:

  • Cervical dorsalgia.

  • Cervicothoracic dorsalgia.

  • Thoracic dorsalgia.

  • Thoracolumbar dorsalgia.

  • Lumbar dorsalgia.

  • Lumbosacral dorsalgia.

However, If we talk in specific terms, the pain involved comes from the spine. Accordingly, the spine section, the sacral spines responsible for the pain, makes for a particular type of dorsalgia.

In all, there are six known types of dorsalgia. These are listed here:

  1. Cervical dorsalgia

Cervical dorsalgia is also medically termed cervicalgia. However, The pain you feel is in the neck region and occurs due to some injury or degeneration of the cervical spine.

  1. Cervicothoracic dorsalgia

This type of dorsalgia involves cervical and thoracic regions of the spine. The cervical spine is the uppermost part of the vertebral column in the neck region. Whereas the thoracic spine is the second portion of the vertebral column. It is located between the cervical spine and lumbar spine. However, the pain comes from both of these portions.

  1. Thoracic dorsalgia

This type of back pain comes from only the thoracic vertebral segments. So, this type is rare.

  1. Thoracolumbar dorsalgia

Thoracolumbar dorsalgia involves both the thoracic and lumbar spine. Usually, this type involves both upper and lower back pain.

  1. Lumbar dorsalgia

The lumbar spine is located where the thoracic spine ends and continues down to the sacral spine. This part of the back is the most used in our daily movements. However, this type is more common among patients with this disease.

  1. Lumbosacral dorsalgia

This type involves back pain that roots from the spine lumbar and sacral spine.

How do you prepare?

Before having a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), your healthcare provider will take your medical history, and a physical exam, and order a blood test to check for bleeding or thickening disorders. Your provider may also recommend a CT scan or MRI to determine if you have abnormal swelling in or near your brain.

  • Food and medicine

Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions on food, drink, and medication. Tell your provider if you are taking anticoagulants or other anticoagulant medications. Examples include warfarin (Jantoven), clopidogrel (Plavix) and apixaban (Eliquis). Also, tell your provider if you are allergic to any medications, such as numerical medications (local sensors)

What else you can expect?

A Spinal tap is usually performed in an outpatient or hospital setting. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about potential risks, and any discomfort you may feel during the procedure.

Before the procedure

There are a few possible areas for a spinal tap. Usually, you lie on your side with your knees close to your chest, or you sit and lean forward in a stable position. These positions flex your back, increase the space between the vertebrae and make it easier for your healthcare provider to insert the needle.

During the process

  • A local anesthetic is injected into your lower back to clear the piercing area before the needle is inserted. The local anesthetic will bite slightly as it is injected.

  • A small, empty needle is inserted between the two lower vertebrae (lumbar region), the spinal cord (dura), and the spinal canal. You may feel pressure on your back during this part of the procedure.

  • Once the needle is in place, you may be asked to change your position slightly.

  • Cerebrospinal fluid pressure is measured, a small amount of fluid is withdrawn and pressure is measured again.

  • The needle is removed, and the piercing area is covered with a bandage.

The process usually takes 45 minutes. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you lie down after the procedure. Ultrasound can help prevent the injection of the needle from a distance.

After the procedure

  • Plan a break. Do not participate in strenuous activities on the day of lumbar puncture (spinal tap). You can return to work if your job does not require you to be physically active. Discuss your responsibilities with your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

  • Take painkillers. An over-the-counter painkiller containing acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can help reduce headaches or backaches. If your head hurts, call your healthcare provider.

And the Results

Samples of spinal fluid from lumbar puncture (spinal tap) are sent to the laboratory for analysis. Lab specialists test many factors when examining spinal fluid, including:

  • Normal appearance. Spinal fluid is usually clear and colorless. If it is orange, yellow, or pink, it may indicate abnormal bleeding. Green spinal fluid may indicate an infection or the presence of bilirubin.

  • Protein (amount of protein and the presence of certain proteins). High levels of total protein – more than 45 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL) – may indicate an infection or other inflammatory condition. Certain laboratory rates may vary depending on the medical facility and the medical facility.

  • White Blood cells. Spinal fluid usually contains up to five white blood cells per microliter. Additional numbers may indicate an infection or other condition. Certain laboratory rates may vary depending on the medical facility and the medical facility.

  • Sugar (glucose). Low glucose levels in the spinal fluid may indicate an infection, tumor, or other condition.

  • Microorganisms. The presence of bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other microorganisms can indicate infection.

  • Cancer cells. The presence of abnormal cells in the spinal fluid – such as tumors or immature blood cells – may indicate certain types of cancer.

Your healthcare provider will usually give you the results within a few days, but it may take longer. Ask when you can expect to receive your test results.