Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treatment for spinal headaches begins conservatively. Your doctor may recommend bed rest, fluids, caffeine and oral pain relievers. If your headache hasn't improved within 24 hours, your doctor may suggest one or more of the following treatments:
- Epidural blood patch. Injecting a small amount of your blood into the space over the puncture hole will often form a clot to seal the hole, restoring normal pressure in the spinal fluid and relieving your headache. This is the usual treatment for persistent spinal headaches that don't resolve on their own.
- IV caffeine. Delivered directly into your bloodstream, caffeine helps relieve spinal headaches — usually within a few hours — by constricting blood vessels within your head.
- Epidural saline. Injecting a saltwater (saline) solution into the space outside the membrane that covers your spinal cord may put pressure on the lumbar puncture site and stop the cerebrospinal fluid leak. But because saline solution is absorbed so quickly by the body, spinal headaches often recur after this treatment.
- Postdural (post-lumbar) puncture headache. International Headache Society. http://ihs-classification.org/en/02_klassifikation/03_teil2/07.02.01_nonvascular.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Primary headache disorders, including migraine. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm#142883138. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Post-lumbar puncture and other low-pressure headaches. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec16/ch216/ch216e.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Guideline summary NGC-4514. National Guideline Clearinghouse. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=8102. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Boonmak P, et al. Epidural blood patching for preventing and treating post-dural puncture headache (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. 2010;1:1.
- Basurto Ona X, et al. Drug therapy for treating post-dural puncture headache (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. 2011;8:1.
- Lavi R, et al. Lumbar puncture: It is time to change the needle. European Neurology. 2010;64:108.