Lumbar puncture, I am terrified!

I recieved my lumbar puncture letter today. I know I am being totally pathetic about it, but I am so scared. I’m terrible with needles and injections. I’m not really asking anything, sorry for being a time waster, I just needed somewhere to say this. I’ve read so much about it and I am looking forward to the day when it is all over and done with. But that means I am kind of wishing my birthday away because my lumbar punture is 2 days after my birthday. Actually, I do have a question, is it wise to drink 2 days before an LP? I’m not a big drinker, but I was looking forward to some drinks on my birthday… is it likely to contribute to the possibility of having a horrid headache? Okay, my random anxious musings are complete. Thanks for reading and listening! Bettie xxx

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Okay for first of all Bettie you’re not being pathetic. No one in their right mind thinks “Yay a lumbar puncture, I’d love a needle in my spinal chord” so if you can, try stop beating yourself up on that count. That being said I’m not going to lie to you, I found the procedure really unpleasant. The actual needle part was okayish but my body went into a shock response (this sort of thing just happens to me occasionally) so I got very light headed and ended up dripping with sweat but as I say this happens to me sometimes so I don’t think this sort of reaction is typical. Once it was done though I didn’t get any other symptoms, no headache nothing so it by no means guaranteed that you will either.

As for drinking booze I certainly wouldn’t consciously abstain if it were my birthday, my only advice would be to make sure you are properly hydrated before the procedure so maybe not a skinful :wink: Perhaps buy less but treat yourself to something better than your normal tipple.

Good luck.


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Just my tuppence worth… I was really, really scared when I had mine, but found that it was nowhere near as bad as I feared!

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Hi Patrick,

Thank you for your reply - I must admit I have had similar reactions to injections etc, I am a very pale person and when I feel faint all the colour drains from my face and my lips go blue! The first time my partner saw it happen he freaked out! I’m sure I will have a similar reaction because I get myself so worked up about these things. I’m going to have lots of full fat coke and sweets and chocolate at the ready (always a good excuse).

My work have been very supportive and are giving me three days off - so even if I do get a horrible headache, I should have time to recover. I’m just so scared of needles that I know I am going to be a mess on the day - so I’ll be needing a drink on my birthday for sure!

Fingers crossed it goes really well and I finally get answers. Thanks again for responding it makes me feel so much better.

This is normally the way - I know when it is over I will tell myself, “what was all the fuss about?” It’s the same when I have blood tests - I panic when they tell me, panic while they are taking my blood, but then it is all over in a few minutes and I feel silly. Fear is the worst! I just keep telling myself, “it isn’t as bad as you think”. Maybe one day I’ll believe it!

I recently had my first lumber puncture and although I was a wee bit anxious about it I found it quite straight forward and didn’t really feel a thing so try not to worry about it. I had to go into a waiting area for a couple of hours (looked after well even got a cup of coffee and sandwich).

Enjoy your birthday celebrations.


I recently had my first lumber puncture and although I was a wee bit anxious about it I found it quite straight forward and didn’t really feel a thing so try not to worry about it. I had to go into a waiting area for a couple of hours (looked after well even got a cup of coffee and sandwich).

Enjoy your birthday celebrations.


Thank you! It is reassuring to hear people found it okay, I mean I am looking forward to a lie down afterwards! I’m guessing you weren’t allowed to take someone with you?

Hi, yes I was on my own. I got my temperature taking before going up to the ward. After the procedure was over I had to stay lying on the bed for 30 mins then I went to the day room for another hour and a half. Take some magazines with you.


Hi, yeh, having a lumber puncture isnt the ideal way to spend a day!

Mine …all 4…werent pleasant. But many people here say their`s were fine.

Drink lots of caffeine beforehand…doc told me it would help regain what they take out!

My 1st was in the last century!!! 1999. Back then we were told to lie flat and still for 4 hours.

My last was last year and the lie down time had reduced to just an hour. No headache afterwards…maybe it was the caffeine!

Like back and think of England…as the victorian ladies used to say.


Gosh 4!! You are brave! I’m going to make sure I have a strong coffee in the morning and I’ll bring a bottle of coke with me. Bit worried about needing to go to the loo with all the caffeine and liquid, but I’m sure I’ll survive! Thanks for the advice and support.

Don’t forget to take a bendy straw so that you can drink your full fat coke lying down!

I wouldn’t put a lumbar puncture on my bucket list but it is survivable!

A bendy straw! Pro-tip, thank you!

Did someone come and get your after? I read that you aren’t supposed to drive home after, is that true? My poor partner, for the past year he has been my taxi, driving me to and from appointments, think he deserves a medal for putting up with me. I realised last week this has been going for over a year now - couldn’t believe it. My last birthday we spent at the eye hospital (3rd day in a row, I believe), so this year will be an improvement on that!

Have you had the results of yours yet? How long did it take? I hope it was a good outcome! Sorry for all the questions, thank you for answering them!

I’ll be sure to pack a good book, haven’t done much reading this past year because of two separate attacks of optic neuritis, it will be a good opportunity!

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Are LPs pretty routine if MS is suspected? I have my first neurology appointment coming up and don’t know what to expect in terms of follow up tests.

Hi, yes my hubby dropped me off and picked me up. I’m pretty sure I was advised not to drive.

Yes I received my results, unfortunately there was quite a delay in receiving them (approx 5 weeks), I chased them up on a regular basis. I don’t think it helped that the lumber puncture was carried out in another Health Board. My own GP advised that the brain scan was suggesting MS and the lumber puncture confirmed MS (RR).

Take care.

I’m sorry it is MS, but also happy that yiy get answers. Don’t know how long your journey has been, but i certainly know the uncertainty is a killer! Best of luck with everything!! Xxx

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Hi Ganton10, My understanding is that they are fairly routine. I have had a clear MRI o brain and spine though. My blood tests for other things have all come back clear and I have had optic neuritis twice. My neurologist originally said if anything came up on the spinal mri, I wouldn’t need the lumbar puncture. So it is good news in some ways that I need the lp… if you don’t mind me asking, what is bringing you to the neruplogist? If yiur neurologist is anything like the one I’ve been seeing you’ll be given loads of information and will feel reassured by the things they say! I came out of my first appointment feeling more positive towards everything that had been going on up until then. Its a scary time, I hope your appointment goes well! Xx

Thank you for the extra information.

I’ve been referred to the neurologist because of a whole range of symptoms I’ve had over the last few months, including numbness, tingling and pain in my right arm and leg, constipation, dizziness, problems thinking clearly, and most recently a blurry right eye for the last 3 weeks.

When I look back, I’ve had quite distinct phases of similar problems previously. Following a bad throat infection 4 years a go, I had a few months where I was constantly at the doctors with problems like facial pain, tingling, tiredness etc, then it just seemed to get better. Then again, 2 years a go I suddenly started with unexplained lower back pain, and also struggled again with the fatigue, some visual disturbances, poor concentration. This latest phase started after a had PEs back in December, settled for a few months and then picked up again over the last couple of months.

I’m expecting a neurologist may want an MRI, but the idea of a a lumbar puncture worries me, not just because it doesn’t sound particularly pleasant, but also because I take anticoagulants as a result of my clots, and I think I’d have to stop taking them before such a procedure.

I’d suggest taking everything one step at a time. If something shows up on the MRI, you might no need a lumbar puncture. Worry about the lumbar puncture, if you get there. No need to borrow trouble and the neurologist and any other doctors that you see (I spent a lot of time in ophthalmology because of my eyes) will give you all the info you need, you can ask them all the questions. One thing I found was all the doctors I saw always gave me an opportunity to ask questions and I really appreciated that. I am finding myself in very strange situations kind of hoping things will show up so I don’t have to go through another test and so that I get some answers. But equally if something shows up, that isn’t great either. There is a chance you won’t get answers for a while yet (its been over a year for me) although from my first appointment with a neurologist its been since February, and we had covid lockdown during that time, so hopefully things will move more quickly for you. If you have a look on the forums you see Pete who have waited years. Hold fast and stay strong, keep your supportive friends and family close, they will be such a source of strength in low moments and don’t forget to enjoy yourself! (I should take my own advice!!!)