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Spinal Headache and Relation with Nerves


A spinal headache can occur as a result of a procedure such as a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) or epidural block (such as that performed during a woman's labor and delivery).

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Headache?

The spinal headache often is described as "a headache like no other." Spinal headaches are much more severe when the person is in an upright position; they improve when the person lies down.

Causes of Spinal Headache

Spinal headaches are caused by leakage of spinal fluid through a puncture hole in the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. This leakage decreases the pressure exerted by the spinal fluid on the brain and spinal cord, which leads to a headache.

Spinal headaches typically appear within five days after a spinal tap or spinal anesthesia. Both of these procedures require doctors to puncture the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord.

Sometimes epidural anesthesia may lead to a spinal headache as well. Although epidural anesthesia is injected just outside the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord, a spinal headache is possible if the membrane is inadvertently punctured.

Nerve supply to the head and Spinal Headache

The head is served by twelve different major nerves which start in the brain and serve eyes, nose, ears, mouth, face and neck. Nervous transmission occurs both towards peripheral tissue - conveying motor messages to muscles - and back to the brain, carrying sensory messages such as pain, cold, heat etc.

. The trigeminal nerve serves the eye, jaw, skin and mucous membranes of the head. This nerve can become inflamed by infection of the sinuses and may cause severe pain in any of these areas.

. The vagus nerve connects the brain to the stomach, lungs and heart. Pressure on this nerve or oxygen shortage may account for some of the digestive symptoms - such as nausea and vomiting - which accompany migraines.

. The hypothalamus is a group of nerve cells which regulates all autonomic (non-conscious) actions of the body, such as digestion.

. The pituitary is a group of nerve cells which makes stimulating factors to increase the production of hormones in other organs.

How are spinal headaches treated?

The first course of treatment for spinal headaches involves supplying adequate hydration to try to increase cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) pressure. Sometimes the patient can be hydrated with intravenous fluids (fluids administered into the veins) or by drinking a beverage that is high in caffeine. Caffeine makes blood vessels get smaller, helping increase CSF pressure.

Another treatment might be strict bed rest for 24 to 48 hours.

If a patient develops a severe headache, the anesthesiologist can administer a blood patch with the patient's blood to seal the leak.

The mind and its effect on Headache

The mind is still poorly defined and understood although it is quoted so often as the major influence on many ailments. It is the store of memories, the source of analysis and humor, the controller of feelings, the generator of ideas and the mould of personality, yet no one has found the key to where these vital elements are situated or how the matrix known as our mind stays together (or falls apart).

Sometimes crying or laughing
are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.

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