Category: Injections, Procedures | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
If you are dealing with headaches or migraine-like symptoms within a few days of undergoing a procedure on your neck or spine, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a spinal headache. These headaches are caused by the loss of pressure by the cerebral spinal fluid on the brain and spinal cord. The reason this pressure decreases is because the dural sac that encases the spinal cord becomes punctured, creating a hole that the fluid can leak out of. This could be a result of a spinal tap, a pain injection, or from an anesthesia needle. Today we take a closer look at the symptoms and treatment options for spinal headaches.
Spinal Headaches Symptoms
Symptoms of a spinal headache include:
- Dull, throbbing pain that fluctuates from mild to severe
- Pain that intensifies when you stand up or that decreases when you lie down
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensitivity to light
- Headaches that develop within 24-72 hours after a spinal operation or injection procedure.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Headaches
Diagnosis of a spinal headache begins with a consultation with a spine expert. The doctor will conduct a physical exam, ask about symptoms and delve into your medical history and recent exams. Be sure to tell them if you recently had an injection or operation. If the doctor suspects that leaking spinal fluid is the culprit, they’ll confirm the diagnosis with an MRI.
Once a spinal headache is confirmed, your doctor will walk you through your treatment options. You’ll likely be prescribed a heavy dose of conservative treatment for the next 24-48 hours, which involves rest, fluids, pain relievers and caffeine. If those treatments fail, you may need an epidural blood patch injection. This involves injecting a small amount of your own blood into the space over the puncture hole. Your blood will then form a seal over the hole, restoring pressure in the area and relieving your headache. The epidural blood patch is the gold standard treatment for this issue. For more information about your treatment options, or to talk to a doctor about your headaches, contact a skilled neurosurgeon today.