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How similar is a lumbar puncture to an epidural?

(35 Posts)
Hayesdays Thu 22-Aug-19 16:31:06

I had a lumbar puncture a few years ago and found it very painful. Are there any mums out there who have had one and also had an epidural for childbirth?

I'm wondering if there are any similarities between the two in terms of the way they are administered, did you find the lumbar puncture painful and was an epidurals painful too?!

I'm feeling very anti epidural because of my lumbar puncture experience so would love to hear from other mums please.

In a perfect world I'd love to go for the drug free route but I know this isn't always possible and I don't want to be scared of the epidural should I need it...Do I just need to suck it up, stop being a plonker and get on with it?! Hope that makes sense to somebody? TIA

OP’s posts: |
brittlestar Thu 22-Aug-19 16:48:40

I've never had a lumbar puncture but had two epidurals for my 2 dc births. Both times I was so so grateful to have the option. My contractions were really painful and I was tired. I don't remember having any pain having the epidural and it took all my labour pain away. If I was going into hospital to have another baby I'd ask for an epidural again as they were a positive experience for me.

BendydickCuminsnatch Thu 22-Aug-19 16:49:35

I’ve had a spinal and an epidural and neither were painful at all really. They numb the area first and then it’s jusy uncomfortable. I know it’s not what you’re asking as I’ve never had a lumbar puncture, but from what I’ve heard they’re horrific and much worse than epidural.

brittlestar Thu 22-Aug-19 16:50:59

Both times I had to sit on the edge of the bed, bend forward to curve my spine and then stay really still whilst it was being administered. They timed it for between contractions and told me what they were doing and when to stay still. Is that similar to how you had the lumbar puncture?

IDontDrinkTea Thu 22-Aug-19 16:55:15

I had my lumbar puncture done lying down and the epidural sitting up. Other than that it felt the same. But then I didn’t find either of them painful

IsAStormApproaching Thu 22-Aug-19 16:57:08

I have had both. The lumbar punctures where horrendously painful.
The epidural is not painful but more uncomfortable.
Try not to stress too much. Hopefully you won't need it but if you do, in my opinion you have been through worse with the lumbar puncture.
Good luck

Hayesdays Thu 22-Aug-19 17:07:13

Thanks all!

That's good to know that others have found the lumbar puncture to be painful - I thought I might have just been a bit of a softy! And also a relief to hear that an epidural is not so bad. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me smile it's making me feel less anxious about having one should I feel the need.

I'm pretty sure they attempted to numb my back when I had the lumbar puncture but either it didn't seem to work or it was still painful regardless! But to be honest I was rather ill and didn't think at the time to ask what they were actually doing.

If I end up having an epidural in 14 weeks time I'll update with a pain report!

OP’s posts: |
Sienna757 Thu 22-Aug-19 17:43:22

Personally I found a lumbar puncture far worse including the recovery for it.
I've had 3 epidurals and found none of them to be painful at all x

voxnihili Thu 22-Aug-19 22:13:39

I've had a lumbar puncture (meningitis) and found it excruciating. I also suffered a CSF leak afterwards so my recovery was slow and painful. I was adamant that I wasn't going to have an epidural as I was terrified of the pain and having another leak. Due to other medical reasons, I had to have an epidural. I actually had 2 as the first failed. It was painful but not as bad as the back to back labour. Also, the lumbar puncture just gave me more pain, whereas the epidural took it away (when it worked). It's unlikely I'll have another but if I do I'd definitely have another epidural - I managed to sleep from 8-10 cm dilated.

Northernsoullover Thu 22-Aug-19 22:17:12

I can remember the pain of childbirth, a dental abscess and a corneal abrasion. I can't remember the epidural at all! I haven't had a lumbar puncture though. I am rubbish with pain but once you get to the point of needing an epidural its really not that bad.

MrsApplepants Thu 22-Aug-19 22:26:12

I’ve had both and found neither particularly painful, the lumbar puncture possibly worse.

SusieSusieSoo Thu 22-Aug-19 22:54:28

I don't remember the epidural being painful but I had had a lot of gas & air. I remember having to hug the junior doctor who also hugged me (to keep me still) whilst the consultant or whoever it was put it in.

My back was a mess when they pulled the tape off my back from where it was all fixed on but the epidural was brilliant and I would definitely recommend to anyone despite the fact that I had twinges/tingles on my back where they ripped the skin off with the tape for the next 3 years.

Zebrasinpyjamas Thu 22-Aug-19 22:59:20

I have had two epidurals and neither hurt. I not at all 'brave' with pain 😄. I was having them before contractions so I hadn't had any other pain relief first either.
The second went in straight away. The first one took a few attempts to get right so there were two/three sharp pricks for the failed attempts but they were bearable and quick .

MiniMum97 Thu 22-Aug-19 23:01:20

Lumbar punctures are known for being very painful. I had a spinal after birth and it wasn't painful at all (no more than an injection). I was lying down.

Sammy867 Thu 22-Aug-19 23:01:30

I found the lumbar puncture painful. The local anaesthetic started to wear off when the sample wasn't quite taken (meningitis) so they just had to continue. It took around 20minutes to get a large enough sample. Epidural is over with quickly. Feeling a large needle in your spine without local anaesthetic is definitely not fun and games but was necessary at the time.

Guessmydog Thu 22-Aug-19 23:04:31

I've had both op, the local anaesthetic stung (for lumbar puncture, can't remember if you have it for epidural) but neither were painful. The recovery from the lumbar puncture was awful and I had the worst headaches, whereas the epidural took all the pain away. I never wanted an epidural but the pain was too much so I went with it, so glad i did! Lumbar puncture was administered laying on my side, curled up, epidural sat up.

Babdoc Thu 22-Aug-19 23:07:41

Epidurals are performed by anaesthetists and we are awesome at pain relief - it’s our “thing”! grin
Lumbar punctures are done by general physicians or neurologists who don’t have the same training, and may not numb the area first.
Not that I’m biased...

Hayesdays Thu 22-Aug-19 23:08:51

Thank you all so much! smile

I’m feeling a lot more confident now about pain relief choices. I’m just hoping to have all options open to me and go into it not being afraid. And you’ve all helped to ease my fears, so thank you xxx

OP’s posts: |
chrisask Fri 23-Aug-19 18:44:28

Have had neither procedure (touch wood) but regularly perform and train others to perform both.

Epidurals and lumbar punctures are similar to an extent (both typically involve bending over the edge of a bed and passing a needle between the bones in the back).

The purposes are difference. Lumbar punctures are typically diagnostic and performed by general medical docs who perform fewer of these procedures and are less experienced with local anaesthetic. Epidurals are for pain relief and performed by anaesthetists who perform much higher numbers and have specific expertise with pain relief.

Don't be afraid of an epidural if you feel you need one, even if it's not in your birth plan. No one is keeping score, the important thing is you do what is right for you at the time.
If it does feel sore going in, tell the anaesthetist. They can always stick in some more anaesthetic.

Hope that helps

timshelthechoice Fri 23-Aug-19 18:53:53

It seems quite barbaric not to adequately anaesthetise a patient for a lumbar puncture. They definitely do so with children. I find a lot of undermedicating for many of these it's shocking. I have PTSD and needed endoscopy and they gave me mega sedation, thankfully.

timshelthechoice Fri 23-Aug-19 18:56:00

I loved my epidurals (and GAs that were needed for surgery)!

Bol87 Fri 23-Aug-19 19:12:24

In comparison to back to back labour contractions, the epidural (x2, one failed) did not hurt at all. I don’t even remember it. But I can remember the agony of labour. blush .. you just need to keep really still, why my first one failed apparently. No idea how I was meant to do that with constant contractions! The second time, they gave me a quick spinal block and then an epidural.. again, I don’t remember any pain from the actual procedures!

Mumoftoo19 Fri 23-Aug-19 19:20:03

I've had a Lumbar Puncture it was horrific and they hit a nerve. The epidural I didnt really feel as was obviously in labour. I have suffered with lower back pain on and off since epidural though. That was 8 years ago.

CatSmize Fri 23-Aug-19 19:30:09

It seems quite barbaric not to adequately anaesthetise a patient for a lumbar puncture. They definitely do so with children.

I agree, although I had one at 11 (meningitis) and wasn't anesthesised. The needle went in 4 or 5 times and I could feel it moving around inside my spine each time sad I found it pretty traumatic.

It was without a doubt the most painful thing I've gone through and I'm so glad you've asked this question, OP, as I would like an epidural but am terrified it will be like the LP! This thread is encouraging smile

Babdoc Fri 23-Aug-19 20:04:14

I was horrified when DD2 had a lumbar puncture at the age of 12, for a suspected subarachnoid bleed.
I’m an anaesthetist, and stood there gobsmacked as the paediatrician not only used no local anaesthetic, but used a cutting needle, leaving DD with a CSF leak and splitting headache for a week. It hadn’t occurred to me to check first - I couldn’t believe he’d be so out of date and barbaric!

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