spinal headache symptoms

Spinal Headache: Overview, Signs, Diagnosis and Treatment


Spinal headache is a kind of really intense headache which occurs due to leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from the meninges into the brain surface. When the fluid surrounds the brain it causes stretch to the nerves which are surrounding the brain and it causes headaches as a result.

Spinal Headache
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Spinal headache occurs when the spinal fluid leaks out of meninges into the brain. Headache lasts for a couple of minutes to days. The only therapy for treating the spinal headache is lying down as it gets better while the patient rests but becomes worse as soon as he set up or starts to work.

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It usually occurs post-dural puncture as that alters the amount of cerebrospinal fluid present in the meninges which surround the brain and spinal cord. Whenever a person has undergone a spinal tap, it is a probability that he will develop a spinal headache after the procedure. Females are more prone to have a spinal headache and it occurs in 40% in people who receive a spinal tap.

Spinal Headache Symptoms 

The kind of headache occurs within a few days of a spinal tap and the symptoms become worst in the initial days and gradually become better as the patient heals. The symptoms of spinal headache include

  • pain in the neck
  • stiffness of the neck and pain on movement
  • nausea and vomiting
  • hypersensitivity to light and patient is sometimes not able to open his eyes in a high beam of light
  • the headache is severe and its start usually at the back of the head and in some patient it also start in the front part of the head.
  • The headache has more of a throbbing or pulsating character
  • when the patient tries to set up and walk around the pain aggravates
  • the pain also aggravates on straining, coughing, sneezing or rise in intra abdominal pressure

What Is The Mechanism Of Such Kind Of Headache?

This type of headache occurs during a puncture in your vertebral column. There are a variety of procedures when the doctor needs the sample of your fluid to diagnose any medical condition you are suffering from and this procedure is used to diagnose a variety of Ailments and also give anesthesia to the patients before surgery.

In this procedure, the number of needles I made to puncture or create a hole in the lumbar space between the lumbar disc. The area of for it is between L3 and L4 for L4 and L5. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a needle into the spinal cord and will withdraw sample of fluid or will deliver a sample of anesthesia for surgical procedure. Whenever space is entered, there is an alteration in the amount of fluid that surrounds the brain and as a result, The nerves around the brain get stretched which causes the pain.

How The Doctor Diagnose Your Condition?

When you go to the medical practitioner,  he will ask you a brief history that is based on a few of the questions like

  • if you had any lumbar puncture this month?
  • if the pain aggravates on coughing or sneezing?
  • if the pain relieves on rest?
  • does caffeine has any beneficial effect on the headache?
  • does the headache go away on its own or not?

After performing your general physical examination, he will assess the condition of your lumbar puncture that if that is clear or is there any cyst or Hematoma developed. When he is fully satisfied he will give you a single test for diagnosis which includes MRI in this case.


Magnetic resonance imaging is the only test which is there to diagnose a variety of headache. It only assists the doctor to see any leakage inside the brain of the spinal fluid. It will let him assess the amount of fluid surrounding the brain.


Your doctor will recommend some treatment for spinal headache which includes simple pain relievers as there is no definite treatment for such kind of headaches.

  • Painkillers: spinal headache does not have a definite treatment so the doctor will prescribe you to take any sort of painkiller which is easily available to you and it will help you to get away the pain temporarily as it takes few days to relieve that kind of attack on its own.
  • taking caffeine: Taking caffeine in the form of coffee tea or other kind of beverages is helpful as it lessens the Severity of pain
  • taking plenty of rest: lying down on the bed is one of the best therapy for treating spinal headache. The more you rest, the more is the probability that you get rid of such kind of headache. The pain of such headache is really intense and it can be made better by lying down on the bed and not sitting up or walking around unnecessarily
  • blood patch: if the headache has not improved after the general treatment options, your doctor will suggest you go for epidural blood patch which involves injecting a small amount of blood over the space created to seal off the hole and restore the normal pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid. It will relieve your headache as a result. it is the best therapy for headaches which doesn’t go away in a week or two.

How Does It Feel Like To Have Such Kind Of Headache?

It is a kind of dull pulsating headache that has severe intensity. The  Severity of intensity fluctuates throughout the day and the pain gets worse when you stand up or sit down and also decrease when you lie down on your bed in a comfortable position.


Such kind of headache is usually not preventable because it is the necessity of some procedures like taking a sample of service by fluid for diagnosis of certain conditions and also injecting amount of anesthesia in surgical procedures which typically involves pelvis or legs. You cannot prevent it when it is a necessity as it is a Diagnostic procedure.


Spinal headache is a kind of severe, intense throbbing headache which occurs in episodic form throughout the day. It aggravates on sitting up and standing and decreases while you take rest. It occurs due to a spinal tab or lumbar puncture procedure and usually goes on its own within a week.

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