A lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) is a test to check the fluid that surrounds and protects your spinal cord and brain. Your doctor may have done this test to look for an infection. In some cases, a lumbar puncture is done to release pressure from too much fluid or to look for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
You may feel tired, and your back may be sore where the needle went in (the puncture site). You may have a mild headache for a day or two. This can happen when some of the spinal fluid is removed. Some people also have trouble sleeping for a day or two.
The fluid taken during a lumbar puncture is often sent to a lab for tests. Your doctor or nurse will call you with the test results.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter P586 in the search box to learn more about "Lumbar Puncture: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: October 14, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
© 2006-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.