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A spinal tap (also called a lumbar puncture) 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. Sometimes it's 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. Drinking extra fluids, taking pain medicine, and lying down for several hours after the procedure may help the headache be less severe. Some people also have trouble sleeping for a day or two.
The fluid taken during a spinal tap 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Adaptation Date: 3/2/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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