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Spinal Tap (no...not the movie, unfortunately)

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So I went to a neurologist yesterday because there were some abnormalities on the MRI I got (that kinda ended up being a sinus infection). Anyway, my brain would apparently be in the jar labeled A.B. Normal from Young Frankenstein.

She said the signs point to a good possibility of MS, but she wants to run more tests before she gives any kind of diagnosis. I started doing some research on MS online and decided not to do that anymore - too scary! They list ALL of the possible symptoms for the worst case scenario, even though I know that this disease can be on a wide range from quite mild to severe.

The big test she wants to do is a lumbar puncture a.k.a. spinal tap. So I got that scheduled for May 30 (on a Friday so I can lay flat on my back for 24 hours and have the weekend to recover). I did read the entry on Wikipedia, which I know isn't a medical site but I just wanted general info.

I thought I would ask here - who has had a spinal tap? What was it like? How long did they keep you after the procedure?

I figure if it's scary I have 2 weeks to deal with it and go in feeling OK about it.
post #2 of 27
My friend had one and she said there was some Pain. This was 3 Years ago. Some people say it hurts alot and others say it isnt bad. Depends on the person.
post #3 of 27
i had that done also, After i finally got them to understand the issues was my back was hurting, I had alot of the same stuff as MS.

Hmm for me, err, i would perfer not to say hedi. my advice dont think about it.
post #4 of 27
I've never had one, but I've assisted doctors during many of them.

You lay on your side in a fetal position. They freeze the area with a local. You feel the small needle for the freezing, but after that you just feel pressure. You shouldn't feel pain.

They collect the samples. Apply pressure to the area. There should be no residual side effects or bruising or anything.

They keep you to make sure that there is no spinal fluid leakage after the procedure.
post #5 of 27
I've had spinal anesthesia and they had to keep trying to get the needle in, cause I couldn't bend my spine enough, but there was no pain. I'm just really hoping and praying for you that it's NOT MS.
post #6 of 27
Worlds of hopes and prayers for you to feel no pain, and to get the best possible news.
post #7 of 27
Ive had 3 and I didn't think they were bad at all! I dont think they froze it up before hand either, the just inserted some numbing stuff and then did the rest! My son (who was just 2 months old at the time) got one and they put him in the fetal position just like they normally would and went ahead with the procedure, he cried a little bit, but I think its different for everyone! We had no side effect, I had a mild headache afterwards but it wasn't like a migraine or anything and it didn't take that long either time! Just a few minutes and a couple quick pokes! I only had to stay one night too! Good luck!!
post #8 of 27
I hope you don't have MS either. None of the auto immune diseases are any fun.

I have had two spinal taps. While I don't want to have another one, I could without being traumatized about it.

The worst part of the first one is that I had never had lidocaine or novacaine. So the doctor says this is going to sting a little. Like He**, it felt like a red hot poker being stuck into my spine. I actually reflexively jumped off the table. Not good

After I knew what level of pain to be expecting I was fine bracing myself for it. once the local kicked it it wasn't a big deal in terms of physical feeling. I think the psychological aspect of this test is the creepiest thing.

I was worried about not being able to hold still enough, as you have to curl into a fetal position and not move.

I think the first one I layed flat for 2 hours before I was allowed up to go home to bed. I already had a horrific migraine so that wasn't going to get any worse. I actually had encephalits.

The second one, went off without a hitch. Knowing what to expect makes it so much easier.

All it all, it really isn't as bad as it sounds. The worst part is the burn of the lidocaine and that subsides very quickly.


I did have a long term side effect. That spot gets achy when the weather changes. But all my joints do and this is most likely consequence of my autoimmune disease and not something specific to the tap itself.

If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to send a PM
post #9 of 27
everyone I know who's ever had a spinal tap has had pain in the spot later on!! I can show you on a bad day exactly the location where they did it! But its not too bad really, just achey!!
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittymonsters View Post
The worst part of the first one is that I had never had lidocaine or novacaine. So the doctor says this is going to sting a little. Like He**, it felt like a red hot poker being stuck into my spine. I actually reflexively jumped off the table. Not good

After I knew what level of pain to be expecting I was fine bracing myself for it. once the local kicked it it wasn't a big deal in terms of physical feeling. I think the psychological aspect of this test is the creepiest thing.

I was worried about not being able to hold still enough, as you have to curl into a fetal position and not move.

I think the first one I layed flat for 2 hours before I was allowed up to go home to bed. I already had a horrific migraine so that wasn't going to get any worse. I actually had encephalits.

The second one, went off without a hitch. Knowing what to expect makes it so much easier.
i HATE it when they say stuff like that! i had dye injections in my TMJ area once... they told me it would be 'mildly uncomfortable'. i think, ok, i have chronic migraines, i can do 'mildly uncomfortable'... but i would have qualified the feeling as 'excrutiatingly painful'! the 1st side, i kept thinking, ok, this is the worst... then the pain would intensify - this happened several times.
the 2nd side was much easier [still really hurt] because i was prepared for it. did my biofeedback deep breathing...
i don't know why some doctors think that if they tell you something will hurt, you'll refuse to do it or something!
never had an MRI... but i now expect anything they do will be very painful. that way, i'm prepared - if it doesn't hurt as much as i expect, it's not a big deal.

sending calming & that the diagnosis is favorable!
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
MRIs are cake! Well, unless you're claustophobic. I've had MRIs in both the open and closed machines - open for my wrist, closed for my head. No big deal, and no pain at all. The only thing I felt at all was when she had to insert a small needle into a vein to inject the dye, but that's no worse than getting blood drawn.
post #12 of 27
I hope it isn't MS. But even if it is, the prognosis isn't as bleak as it once was. They have been making great strides in treating MS. Dr. Kraft has been studying the use of a person's own stem cells to slow down and even mildly reverse the progress of the disease.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0417070731.htm

I believe they are actually looking to do or are in the process of doing a second study. If your results do happen to come back positive, you might want to look into the study, or do more research into it.

One of my cousins has MS. It's fairly common in cold geographical locations. They aren't really sure why.
post #13 of 27
Sending prayers and vibes that your test goes smoothly and that results are good
As for MS, my good friend has it and has had it for quite awhile - the new drugs have made all the difference in the world, according to her. Occasionally, her temp goes up & she is hot even during winter, but other than that, she feels pretty darn good. Much better than those who have fibromyalgia that we know.
post #14 of 27
I've had one....

In the spring of my fourth year of college (I went 5... graduated last May) I came down with a horrible migraine that WOULD NOT go away and prevented me from doing the basic of tasks... in the end I wound up withdrawling from school that semester, but before I was yanked out of State College and brought back home to go to Cooper Hospital, I was given every test available (there is only 1 hospital in State College and that's what you're stuck with) one of which was an xray-guided spinal tap.... they numbed my back with lidocaine first - I was on my stomach on a table under an xray machine - the doctor and tech would take an xray every so many seconds/minutes to make sure he was guiding the needle in correctly... then he collected 2 vials of spinal fluid and I was flipped back onto my back on the gurney... I was wheeled back to the room where my mom was waiting and told I had to stay on my back for 4 hours - that is how long it would take my body to replace the taken fluid... If I were to sit up earlier than that I was told my headache would increase to even more horrid proportions... my problem is, I can't lay on my back, like at all, but I had to... my mom fed me noodles and chocolate milk while I was on my back and watching Oprah haha... after a few hours I basically cried to the nurse about how I can't lay on my back and she allowed me to turn slightly to my side (but still flat) and put a pillow behind me...

After the 4 hours I was allowed to go home, but told to stay in bed and not lift anything heavy (Ollie-cat was peeeeeved - he's 15 pounds = out of the question).... the only real side effect I had was a severe muscle spasm later that night... luckily, one of the gazillion meds I was on at the time was a muscle relaxer, so I called the 24 hour doctor number and he told me just to double the dose once and go to bed - it worked

My tests all came back fine and although the migraine lasted from January til August, it did get cleared up relatively quickly with the proper care - if I had gotten to the right doctor right away it wouldn't have been so bad


Good luck with your tests and don't stress out... you'll be ok and the spinal tap really isn't as bad as people make it sound!
post #15 of 27
Oh man, I'm getting jittery just thinking about it... I hated my epidural, but mainly because my anaesthesiologist was a newbie and apparently my spine is crooked or something! I don't know how similar epidurals and spinal taps are... I just know the both involved needles being shoved into your back.

Even if it does hurt a bit, the pain won't last long, you'll get your results, and you'll forget about the discomfort before too long.
post #16 of 27
I will pray your test goes smoothly. I've not had a spinal tap done but I did have a few tests last summer when they were testing me for a symptom of MS. I had a MRI, an EEG and I forget the name of the other test. Turned out to be an infection in my cornea from overwear of my contacs. Guess they just had to rule everything out.

I'd say just try not to get worked up over the posibilities now. They are probably just trying to prepare you for the worst or rule the big things out first. That's the way it was for me and I'm sure it will for you too!
post #17 of 27
Oh Heidi, how scary!

I am sending many vibes and prayers that it isn't MS and that the test is not too bad.

post #18 of 27
I would seriously try not to think about it! If you keep thinking about it and getting yourself stressed out then any little bit of pain will be exagerated even though its not that bad! Your head can play some tricks on you sometimes!! I always worried too about it and then when it happened it was like PEOPLE SUCK!! Its like labor, everyone tells you how awfull its going to be and then when you get done with it you're like oh that wasn't bad at all!!
Sending for the smoothest spinal tap anyone has ever had!!
post #19 of 27
Oh hon, many vibes going out to you!

I have never had one, but my mom did. Her problem was she couldn't get into the fetal position (she was a large woman with her leg in a brace because of replacing her femur so she couldn't bend that leg at all). It was painful for her while they were doing it, because of her position and the fact they had a hard time finding her spine, but the good news is even with her, recovery time was a few hours. The spot was sore for a few days, but not any sorer than it would be with a regular shot. A friend of mine has had one done and he compares it to going to the dentist. Yeah, the initial shot isn't pleasant and after that it is more the "thought" of what they are doing that is painful, rather than what you actually feel.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. Basically, anything with medicine isn't going to be fun. But, you really shouldn't need that long to recover. I just hope it isn't MS.
post #20 of 27
I've had anesthesia injected into my back four times. They make you sit and nurses help curl you into a tight ball as they inject it. Hurts, but hopefully the anesthesiologist if good and gets it right away. With my last one, the anethe. missed and sent my leg kicking (without my will) twice. I still have nerve damage to this day.

My son has spinal taps every month where they test for leukemia in his spine and inject chemo. They give him Versed and Fentanyl beforehand. One is for pain, and the other is to help him forget he's had the procedure done. He lays on the bed and nurses curl him into a tight ball and the doctor extracts a sample of spinal fluid before injecting the chemotherapy. He has to lie still for an hour after the procedure. Sometimes he experiences soreness in his back afterward, but nothing that Tylenol hasnt taken care of. And not enough to stop him from playing with his action figures! Most of the time he isnt even aware that he had it done, aside from the gauze and tape they place on his back.

Anyway, hoping for good news for you. Hopefully the spinal is out of the way swiftly and the results are positive!
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianjela View Post
My son has spinal taps every month where they test for leukemia in his spine and inject chemo. They give him Versed and Fentanyl beforehand. One is for pain, and the other is to help him forget he's had the procedure done. He lays on the bed and nurses curl him into a tight ball and the doctor extracts a sample of spinal fluid before injecting the chemotherapy. He has to lie still for an hour after the procedure. Sometimes he experiences soreness in his back afterward, but nothing that Tylenol hasnt taken care of. And not enough to stop him from playing with his action figures! Most of the time he isnt even aware that he had it done, aside from the gauze and tape they place on his back.
I'm not trying to be nosy and if I am just tell me you'd rather not talk about it, I won't be offended lol, but I just noticed that your location is PA and am curious if your son is treated via Hershey Medical Center? I went to Penn State and was a huge part of Dance Marathon which annually raises millions of dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund out of Hershey Medical Center - the fund is for all of the expenses related to families with children who have cancer and are treated there...

Like I said, if it's too personal just tell me to butt out haha
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
So I went to a neurologist yesterday because there were some abnormalities on the MRI I got (that kinda ended up being a sinus infection). Anyway, my brain would apparently be in the jar labeled A.B. Normal from Young Frankenstein.

She said the signs point to a good possibility of MS, but she wants to run more tests before she gives any kind of diagnosis. I started doing some research on MS online and decided not to do that anymore - too scary! They list ALL of the possible symptoms for the worst case scenario, even though I know that this disease can be on a wide range from quite mild to severe.

The big test she wants to do is a lumbar puncture a.k.a. spinal tap. So I got that scheduled for May 30 (on a Friday so I can lay flat on my back for 24 hours and have the weekend to recover). I did read the entry on Wikipedia, which I know isn't a medical site but I just wanted general info.

I thought I would ask here - who has had a spinal tap? What was it like? How long did they keep you after the procedure?

I figure if it's scary I have 2 weeks to deal with it and go in feeling OK about it.

I've also had a friend who had one. He didnt' listen to them when they said not to move much for at least 48 hours. He got a lumbar puncture headache, and he swears it was the worst pain of his life. He was throwing up at our Senior prom from pain. (Yep, that's why he didn't follow orders) That was years ago, though. Just be sure to follow their orders and everything will be ok!
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
I really want to thank everyone who has replied so far about their knowledge and experiences. It's really helping me. Any more thoughts and experiences are definitely welcome!

This is a pretty scary time for me, and of course it's gotten me thinking of every little unexplained thing my body has done ever. I'm trying not to get too wrapped up in thinking about the worst case, because my doctor even said that this isn't an "urgent" situation that requires treatment to start immediately.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzbyJLC10 View Post
I'm not trying to be nosy and if I am just tell me you'd rather not talk about it, I won't be offended lol, but I just noticed that your location is PA and am curious if your son is treated via Hershey Medical Center? I went to Penn State and was a huge part of Dance Marathon which annually raises millions of dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund out of Hershey Medical Center - the fund is for all of the expenses related to families with children who have cancer and are treated there...

Like I said, if it's too personal just tell me to butt out haha
I dont mind the questions. Josh is treated at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, which is 2-1/2 hours from our home, but they are very nice there. Once when our van broke down we tried to have Josh treated at the cancer center here in Erie, but they dont deal with kids at all. Made me wonder what would happen if a family couldnt make that 130 mile one-way trip on a regular basis.

I can definitely appreciate the fund-raisers you've done. I never realized the expenses someone incurs when they are inpatient. Aside from the actual medical bills, there is food for the parent, parking, laundry, blah, blah, blah. You just never think about the little things. Even a free toothbrush or deodorant stick is appreciated when you're so far away from home! LOL

Anyway, thanks for participating in the Dance Marathon - I am sure you made someone's stay that much easier!

PS - I'm a Nittany Lion too! Behrend Campus.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
Anyway, my brain would apparently be in the jar labeled A.B. Normal from Young Frankenstein.
Keep giggling girl! It will help you get thru the procedure!! If this were me, I would look at it this way: yes, the spinal tap will be uncomfortable but afterwards, you'll have what you need to know on how to go about treating your condition. My neighbor has had MS for many years now. If that is what you have, there are all kinds of new drugs available to manage it.

Sending you to get thru the procedure and even more that it isn't MS.

And hey - we can put your Franken-brain in a jar next to my Franken-thumb!
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianjela View Post
Anyway, thanks for participating in the Dance Marathon - I am sure you made someone's stay that much easier!

PS - I'm a Nittany Lion too! Behrend Campus.
No Problem! THON was the best experience of my entire life! I love letting those kids just be kids for a weekend

And yay for a fellow lion! Let's Go State! (I'm class of 07 - after 5 years lol)

Ok, I think I'm done hijacking this thread
post #27 of 27
Heidi, believe me, I know exactly what you're going through. I've been going through it myself since February, and it's no fun. I'm with ya in the A.B. Normal jar. They found mine when they did a CT scan because I was having headaches after I tripped over Forest and fell down the stairs.

I had a spinal tap in March. Mine was not a normal procedure, so I won't go into details. But the thing is, it went about as bad as it can possibly go and I got through it. Yes, it hurts if they hit a nerve, but it's a temporary pain. The worst of it is over as soon as they're done. The procedure should only take about 10 minutes. I was mildly sore for a couple days afterward. I didn't have the headaches. Just follow their instructions and you'll be fine. You're a strong person and you can get through it.

I was given a diagnosis of MS. It's a terrifying possibility. I went through an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. I had just about accepted it when the results of one last test came in that changed their mind. They ran a few other tests and it turned out not to be MS at all. So, my best advice is to hang in there and try your best not to react to anything until all the results are in.

If it turns out to be MS, keep in mind that it's a really unpredictable disease. Everybody experiences it differently. I work with a doctor who's a national expert on the disease and he told me about doing autopsies on patients who's brains were riddled with it, but they never knew it because they hadn't had a single symptom. Most people do well if they get onto therapy early.

Sending you loads of vibes, Heidi.
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