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Introduction to Spinal Headaches
A spinal headache can occur as a result of a procedure such as a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) or epidural block (such as that performed during a woman's labor and delivery). In these procedures, a needle is placed within the fluid-filled space surrounding the spinal cord. This creates a passage for the spinal fluid to leak out, changing the fluid pressure around the brain and spinal cord. If enough of the fluid leaks out, a spinal headache may develop.
Because the design of spinal needles has been improved, spinal headaches after a spinal tap or administration of spinal anesthesia are rare. When epidural anesthetics are placed with a larger needle than that used for spinal anesthetics, however, the likelihood of headache is higher if the epidural needle should inadvertently pass through the dura matter (covering of the spinal cord).
What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Headache?
The spinal headache often is described as "a headache like no other." Spinal headaches are much more severe when the person is in an upright position; they improve when the person lies down.
How Are Spinal Headaches Treated?
The first course of treatment for spinal headaches involves supplying adequate hydration to try to increase cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) pressure. Sometimes intravenous fluids (fluids administered into the veins) are given; other times the person is advised to drink a beverage high in caffeine. Strict bed rest for 24-48 hours is also recommended.
In addition, if a person develops a spinal headache following a procedure, the anesthesiologist can create a blood patch with the person's blood to seal the leak. To administer a blood patch, the anesthesiologist inserts a needle into the same space as, or right next to, the area in which the anesthetic was injected. The doctor then takes a small amount of blood from the patient and injects it into the epidural space. The blood clots and seals the hole that caused the leak.
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Edited by Ephraim K Brenman, DO on March 01, 2007
'Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005
Top Spinal Headaches Related Articles
Cauliflower EarCauliflower ear, or "boxer's ear," is caused by an injury to the ear, usually by blunt trauma from sports such as boxing, wrestling, or martial arts. When hematomas form, infection and eardrum injury may occur in addition to hearing loss if not treated. Treatment goals are to drain blood from hematomas, treat infection, and at times administer antibiotics to prevent further infection.
Common Medical Abbreviations List
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
CT Scan vs. MRI
CT scan (computerized tomography) is a procedure that uses X-rays to scan and take images of cross-sections of parts of the body. CT scan can help diagnose broken bones, tumors or lesions in areas of the body, blood clots in the brain, legs, and lung, and lung infections or diseases like pneumonia or emphysema.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a procedure that uses strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency energy to make images of parts of the body, particularly, the organs and soft tissues like tendons and cartilage.
Both CT and MRI are painless, however, MRI can be more bothersome to some individuals who are claustrophobic, or suffer from anxiety or panic disorders due to the enclosed space and noise the machine makes.
MRI costs more than CT, while CT is a quicker and more comfortable test for the patient.
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Migraine TriggersDo you have frequent headaches? Learn the most common headache triggers for tension headaches, sinus headaches, cluster headaches and migraine. They include red wine, skipping meals, and smoke. Find medical treatments that work, like diet, exercise, massage, and physical therapy.
Headache Home RemediesHeadaches are a common complaint for many people. There are many types of headaches such as migraine, tension, cluster, and the general run of the mill headache. These 17 natural home remedies -- for example, exercise, meditation, hydration, yoga, caffeine, essential oils such as lavender and butterbur, herbs, and supplements like magnesium -- can soothe and relieve some headaches.
Is Having a Chiari Malformation Life-Threatening?Chiari malformation symptoms include vomiting, muscle weakness in the head and face, difficulty swallowing, varying degrees of mental impairment, headache, neck pain, progressive scoliosis (curvature of the spine), difficulty with balance and coordination, and others. It can be life threatening if it affects the mouth and throat.
Lumbar Puncture (LP or Spinal Tap)A lumbar puncture or "LP" is a procedure whereby spinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal for the purpose of diagnostic testing. It is particularly helpful in the diagnosis of inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, especially infections, such as meningitis. A lumbar puncture is also known as a spinal tap.
Migraine HeadacheMigraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Migraine or Tension Headache? Symptoms, Triggers, TreatmentsWhat does a migraine headache feel like compared to a tension headache? Learn to spot migraine symptoms early, how to identify your triggers, and get more information on migraine headache medications and treatments. Learn to tell migraine from other types of headaches.
Migraine vs. Headache: Differences and SimilaritiesHeadaches are the most common reason why a person goes to the doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. There are different types of headaches, for example, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is tension headache. Migraine is much less common. There are few similarities between migraine and other headaches, for example, the severity of the pain can be the same, mild, moderate, or severe; and they can occur on one side or both sides of the head. However, there are many differences between migraine and other types of headaches. Migraine headaches also have different names, for example, migraine with aura and menstrual migraine.
Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain.
Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure.
Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Tension Headache (Symptoms, Relief, Causes, Treatment)
A tension headache s one of the most common types of headaches, and the exact cause is not known. Factors that may contribute to tension or stress headaches are lack of sleep, increased stress (referred to as a stress headache), skipping meals, dehydration, medical diseases or conditions, anxiety, or changes at home, work, or school. Treatment of tension headaches include prescription and OTC medications, stress management, and treating any underlying illness or condition.
What Are the Different Types of Headaches?Pain originating in any region of the face, head or neck is called headache. This pain can be dull or severe and localized to the face, skull or neck. The head is the most common site of pain in the body. Types include tension headache, migraines, cluster headaches and others.
What is Anterior Cervical Discectomy Used For?Anterior cervical discectomy (ACD) is a procedure to remove a severely damaged or diseased neck bone (cervical vertebrae). There are three main types of anterior cervical discectomy surgeries, one without adding any medical implants, one in which the vertebrae is removed and a bone graft is implanted, and one with a graft and stabilizing metal plate.
What Triggers Tension Headaches?A tension headache is the most common type of headache seen in adults. A tension headache is also called a tension-type headache (TTH) or stress headaches. It is usually associated with muscle tightness in the head, scalp or neck. A tension headache is so common that we often consider it a normal occurrence. There are two types of tension headaches: Episodic tension headaches and chronic tension headaches.