Lumbar puncture

Hello, I had my neurologist app today and u gave to have a lumbar puncture, can anyone tell me what to expect please, I am a little worried. Thank you Sue

Hi Sue, I have had a lumbar puncture and this may sound strange but I barely felt it! I had to lay on my side whilst I had a few small injections in my lower back in order to numb the area but from what I can remember, the pain wasn’t bad at all. I’m sure a lot of us ms sufferers are used to needles now but at the time I had a huge needle phobia, around 3 years ago, and it still wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I’m sure each experience is different but I can honestly say I barely felt the needle go in. As a result of this I’m assuming that they are not all do bad, I think it depends on the case. Hope this helps and fingers crossed you will be the same! Good luck. Kirsty x x x

Mmm it’s not particularly pleasant but it’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be, it’s essential for a correct diagnosis of ms.

Hi Sue,

When I had my LP the Dr who did it knew excatly how scared I was and he was really great about it, if you are frightened make sure you tell them beforehand, I have mentioned on other threads in the past that I am definately the worlds biggest wimp-I’m terrified of needles and pass out at the sight of blood. Due to this I told him that I didn’t want to know anything that was going on basically “don’t tell me just do it”!!

Kirsty said that she laid on her side when she had hers but I had to sit up on the bed holding a pillow and leaning forward (with a lovely nurse holding my hand) I don’t know why me and Kirsty differ in that respect maybe it’s the Dr’s personal preference.

The first thing they did was spray anti-septic(?) on my back which was the worst bit as it was freezing cold!! Then a couple of pricks to numb the area. When he actually did the LP it felt just like someone pushing their finger against the small of my back and that was it!!! The whole thing took only a few minutes the longest part was the Dr scrubbing up. Then all done.

Then the boring bit you have to lay flat. They made me lay flat for 5 hrs!! Again I guess everyone’s experience of this bit it different. But my neuro said this is avoid the headache. Someone(sorry I can’t remember who) said on a different thread to drink full sugar Cola to ward off the headache, my neuro said have a cup of coffee as caffiene is good for headache. The nurse also said to eat salty snacks to help after LP, apparently they recommend this after epidural.

It wasn’t half as bad as I had feared not my favourite afternoon ever but not the worst either.

Sorry if I’ve rambled on a bit,please try not to worry about it too much and let us know how you get on. Hoping I’ve helped.

Take care


Sorry, but it’s not essential for a correct diagnosis of MS. Most neuros still like to do one, but it’s possible to be diagnosed without; it depends on the quality of the other evidence. I’m diagnosed on symptom history and MRI evidence alone.

Exceptionally, it’s even possible to diagnose on clinical history alone, although I think few neuros would be happy to do that. Perhaps where the patient can’t have an MRI for some reason?


A lumber puncture is only needed if other tests for ms are inconclusive, clinical history alone is totally inconclusive.

My neuro wanted me to have one but after 5 attempts it failed. I was put in both positions, had deeper injections to numb everything but I still felt it all. They could only get the lp needle half way in!. My neuro only wanted the lp for 110% diagnosis and to have it as documented evidence on my medical records even though my mri results were conclusive. Even if the lp is successful, it can still not show what they are looking for in the spinal fluid. Good luck. Dawn x

My exact words were ‘is it done’ as I didn’t feel a thing because the area for injection of the tap was completely numb. If after 5 attempts I think I would have asked them to stop. Who was adminstering it, a student? My spinal fluid was the conclusive evidence of my ms.

Thank you all for your replies, lots of different experiences. I am going to keep positive (and not think about it until the day) :wink: hopefully I will be one of the lucky ones who barely feel it! I hope all have a good day, supposed to be a little cooler today, hopefully, Best wishes, Sue

Hi Sue Mine was done by a student doctor…under supervision and with my permission of course !! It wasn’t just fine…I didn’t feel a thing except for the initial sharp scratch of the anaesthetic being administered. Hope you have the same experience. Catherine Xx

i really think everyones experiance with LP is differant. some have a nice easy going LP while others have a bad time.( i do think alot is down to the person carring it out ). the one i had was very painfull and i wouldnt like to go through it again.

can i just say i dont think a LP is a must for a DX of MS. its just another piece of the puzzle which can help with a DX. my LP came back negative but with the other evidance the criteria was met and DX was given.

its essencial to have a LP

I agree success is poss down to the person doing the procedure. Here’s keeping everything crossed I have an ok time of it. Thank you for all the replies, Best wishes, Sue x

Didn’t hurt me, as someone said - lying flat for hours helps avoid headache - I lay flat in the car on the way home too.

Drink plenty and have a good book to read (for when you’re lying on your back)

good luck,

Jen x

Hiya Sue

Just a bit if advice and I know everyone is different.

When I had an LP 11 years ago and did not stay “flat as a pan cake” long enough and ended up with the worst headache ever that went on for nearly 2 weeks.

I would suggest to stay horizontal after they have performed the LP -as many hours as you can. If you do get the headache from hell it will go after a week or 2 and there are suggestions to ask for a bloodpatch and also to drink regular coke with asprin- not diet coke.

Good luck and remember stay flat out.



My LP wasn’t painful at all. I must have had a very good doctor I reckon.

I laid on my side and all I felt was as if someone was applying pressure to an area about the size of a 10p coin and that was it. The worst part was having to lie still for an hour and drink as much water as I could during that time. I didn’t get a headache or anything.

I was told that a LP was essential in the d/x of MS as if obliconal bands showed up in the fluid they drain then this would be a definite diagnosis for MS.

I am sure you will be fine so try not to worry.

Shazzie xx

Hi Sue, I hope your lp goes well. Can I just say that I was diagnosed without an lp or MRI. That was in 1995 so perhaps things have changed now. I did have an MRI but just so there was something to put in my records. I was on betaferon by the time I had the MRI. Cheryl:-)

my post above should have said " its not essencial to have a LP ".

I had a lumbar puncture back in 1997 and from what I can remember it didn’t hurt at all. I do remember having to lie flat afterwards and the nurses were insistent I did to prevent getting the headache. I had the LP in the afternoon and didn’t get up until about 8am the following day-yes I remember using a bedpan as I was desperate for the loo !! Not sure if patients are kept in hospital overnight now . Anyhow I didn’t get any adverse reactions at all. I have since been told that it is good to drink coke cola too to help prevent any potential headaches. Hope it goes ok for you. x

I mentioned the coke idea to the neurologists 2nd in command and she hadn’t heard of it but it seems common enough between ms’ers. I have to go to the Radcliffe in Oxford then come back to Beaconsfield after, so a reclined seat in the car is looking likely. Thank you all for your replies, they are very reassuring, Bet wishes to all, Sue

Hi my lp was ok not sure I would want to have them very often but not horrendous. I was out of the hospital in 45 minutes they weren’t keen on me staying there london hospital for you. I drank lots of coke my neuro recommended it and didn’t get too much of a headache. I did an 1 hour tube and train journey afterwards I wouldn’t recommend that. I did rest for the next 24 hours then I just carried on as usual. Good luck