Getting a Spinal Tap When You Have MS

Spinal taps, also called lumbar punctures, are important diagnostic tools, not only for MS, but for a multitude of neurological conditions. A spinal tap can help uncover valuable information about your nervous system. We at MultipleSclerosis.net recently posted an article by our very own Devin Garlit’s called “The Joy of getting a Spinal Tap,” in which Devin discusses his spinal tap experience during his MS diagnostic journey. It was a hit! So many of our community members responded and shared their spinal tap experiences as well so we’ve compiled some of those stories to share with you!

The Numbers

In the article, Devin describes his experience with his second spinal tap. Some people may escape the spinal tap altogether, while others may have multiple lumbar punctures throughout their lives. Many of you weighed in on the varying number of spinal taps you have endured.

“My first and hopefully final spinal tap was horrible…”
“I have had 4.”
“Had one and will never ever get another one!”
“I have had 3 and will never have another.”

The Test Itself

Some of our members described the process in terms of the test itself, and described it as fairly simple and easy. Understandably, others found it to be quite the opposite. Whether you felt your spinal tap was a walk in the park or complete misery, your experience will be unique to you. No matter how you fell about the test, your experiences are completely normal.

“Mine was a piece of cake!”
“I had a very good experience. The procedure was over in seconds and I had to lay completely still for the next hour. My wife drove me home and I spent most of the next 24 hours as vertical as possible, drinking plenty of water. I suffered no ill effects.”
“My spinal tap was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through.”
“I barely felt the needle!”
“Worst experience ever. I cried the entire time.”
“Mine was easy- peasy!”
“Worst experience of my life, hands down.”
“I was lucky. I never felt a thing. No headache either.”

The Headaches

One other interesting thing Devin shared with us about his experience was how important it can be to listen to your doctor, lay down, and avoid activity afterwards. Severe headaches after the test, often referred to as spinal headaches, can occur. The spinal headache he described was an experience so many of you shared. Some of our community members even had to have a blood patch to relieve spinal headaches afterwards.

“I was nauseated and hit with the most painful headache of my life…So my advice with spinal taps is to listen to the doctor and rest up afterwards.”
“I was told to lay as completely flat as possible the whole day. And the headaches were like a caffeine headache, so soda was kept handy.”
“I had my spinal tap on a Friday and had to live with the headache until Monday when they could do the blood patch.”
“I had a spinal headache after mine as well. I had to get a blood patch. Thankfully the patch relief was instant, but wow that is a pain you never forget.”
“I had massive headaches for days.”
“By the time I had my third lumbar puncture, I learned to demand the magic words of BLOOD PATCH immediately following the procedure.”
“My spinal tap resulted in an absolutely massive headache that I couldn’t even lift my head up (and I rested as I was in hospital). I later had to have a blood patch & the headache disappeared immediately thank goodness!”

How about you? What have your experiences been like? We’d love to hear your stories! Although spinal taps are not always a pleasant experience, they can be quite helpful when it comes to learning more about your MS. Sharing your tips and experiences on how to get through this exam can help provide relief for other members during their future tests!

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Comments

  • Robin says:

    I will never go through that pain again! The procedure itself was painful, I cried the whole time. Then to top it off I had an excruciating headache for 3 weeks that kept me on my back.

  • Jacqueline Triplett says:

    I was definitely nervous and had a ton of anxiety before my first spinal tap. The thought of a needle going near my spine freaked me out. However, the process was very smooth. I did experience some lower back pain for a few days but no headache as I did listen to the doctors instructions on low activity and laying flat for a day.

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