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Spinal Headaches

Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

Spinal headaches are painful episodes, but they’re caused by an underlying medical condition that can often be treated. Since the headaches start within days of a spinal procedure or a neck injury, you usually have a good idea of what’s causing the pain. Instead of self-medicating with over-the-counter painkillers, visit a headache specialist like Dr. Amr Hosny at the Advanced Headache Center, with eight offices from New York City to Paramus, New Jersey. Dr. Hosny gets to the bottom of your pain and then treats your immediate discomfort before remedying the cause of the pain to ensure you a return to a pain-free life. Call today for a consultation to get an accurate diagnosis of a spinal headache. It’s the first step toward treatment.

What’s a Spinal Headache?

A spinal headache is a type of head pain from an underlying medical condition, such as from a spinal procedure like getting spinal anesthesia or an epidural block. A neck injury may also cause this type of secondary headache. Spinal headaches affect about a third of those who receive a spinal tap procedure. The headache pain develops from a specific process:

  • A doctor draws a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from your spinal canal in a spinal tap procedure or performs a corticosteroid injection into your spine to decrease pain and inflammation in an epidural block or spinal anesthesia procedure.
  • The large needle passage created by the injection causes the cerebrospinal fluid to leak.
  • The decrease in fluid pressure causes a loss of structural support for the brain.
  • The changes in fluid pressure in your head and spinal cord trigger a spinal headache.

To get the most effective spinal headache treatment, you need an early diagnosis. Dr. Amr Hosny, a headache specialist at the Advanced Headache Center in New York City and northern New Jersey, uses a multimodal approach to reach a conclusive diagnosis. He then delivers effective headache and migraine treatments.

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Headaches?

For most people who’ve had a spinal procedure, symptoms of spinal headaches manifest within three days — after either an injury or a needle insertion into your spine. These symptoms include:

  • Intense dull, throbbing pain in your head, similar to a migraine that starts at the front or the back of your head.
  • Headache pain that increases with movement, such as when you sit or stand
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Headache pain that intensifies whenever you cough, strain or sneeze
  • An accompanying stiffness in your neck
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing in your ears called tinnitus
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pain that decreases when you lie down

When you first encounter these symptoms, you may try home remedies for headaches, such as more sleep or over-the-counter painkillers, to treat the pain. But you need a firm diagnosis from a headache specialist like Dr. Hosny to get the most effective treatment. After diagnosing a spinal headache, he develops a personalized treatment plan designed for your particular case.

Am I at Risk of Spinal Headaches?

Most spinal headaches originate from spinal procedures, although accidents and injuries may also be a cause. Spinal injections are complex and delicate procedures, but as more advanced medical technologies, such as CT scans and fluoroscopy, become commonplace, spinal procedures are safer today than ever before. You’re at a higher risk of a spinal headache if you suffer from a condition such as:

  • Marfan syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Being female, especially if you’re pregnant
  • A history of chronic headaches
  • A low or small body mass index (BMI)
  • Youth between 18 and 30 years old
  • A larger (24-to-25-gauge) needle used in your spinal procedure
  • Poor positioning of the needle during a spinal tap, such as a perpendicular to the spinal cord rather than at an acute angle

The headache specialists at the Advanced Headache Center focus on getting the correct diagnosis to identify the underlying cause. Through diagnostic tests and a review of your medical history, your doctor creates a custom treatment plan to help you get back to a pain-free life.

Can I Get Treatment for My Spinal Headache?

You can get spinal headache treatment and manage these headaches effectively. Dr. Hosny rules out any other underlying causes of your headache during the diagnostic testing. Then, the focus becomes two-fold: easing your current pain and treating the source of your pain, which stops future spinal headaches. Dr. Hosny may recommend conservative treatment options first, including:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Consuming caffeine
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers

These home remedies aren’t always effective against spinal headaches since the underlying cause still exists. Advanced treatments may include an epidural blood patch to seal the spinal cord fluid leak, epidural non-blood injections, or surgical intervention. The goal is to address the underlying injury or illness that’s causing your spinal headaches. Once it’s been remedied, your headaches shouldn’t return, allowing you to proceed with a pain-free life.

Dr. Hosny, a Harvard-trained headache specialist, understands the different types of headaches and migraines. He uses the latest medical technology and the most up-to-date research to identify and treat your pain while educating you on how best to avoid headaches in the future. Contact the nearest headache specialists at the Advanced Headache Center. There are eight locations across Manhattan and Bergen County, New Jersey. Get the best treatment for your spinal headaches to achieve a better quality of life.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105