Can Lumbar Puncture Cause Paralysis?

Lumbar Puncture & Paralysis - VishwaRaj Hospital

A lumbar puncture or a spinal tap is a neurological procedure that involves your lower back. The doctor inserts a needle in the middle of two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to extract a cerebrospinal fluid sample. This fluid protects your brain and spinal cord from any injury by surrounding them.

There is no threat to the nerve or experiencing paralysis since the needle is inserted where the spinal cord ends. Thus, the simple answer to your question is no; it doesn’t cause paralysis. Additionally, the spinal tap can help diagnose severe infection cases like meningitis or other central nervous system problems. These problems include multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, there are some side-effects of the process. So let’s discuss them.

Side-effects of lumbar puncture

Generally, lumbar puncture is safe. However, there are some risks and side-effects associated with the spinal tap. They are:


Around one-fourth of people who carry out lumbar puncture later experience headaches. This headache is due to the leaking of nearby tissue from the puncture site. You will start experiencing a headache after several hours, which continues for two days. In addition to this, vomiting, nausea, and dizziness may also accompany the headache.

Moreover, the headache usually stays while you are standing or sitting. As soon as you lie-down, it resolves. However, post-lumbar puncture headaches can last up to a week or sometimes more.

Pain or numbness

After a lumbar puncture, you may experience pain or numbness at the puncture site. It is mainly in your lower back or legs.

Puncture pain

In some cases, the needle which is inserted by the doctor injures a particular nerve in the Cuada equina. This injury can cause pain. Moreover, it can cause an electric twinge that is felt down in your leg and quite uncomfortable.


There is also a risk of bleeding in the puncture site or the spinal canal. However, bleeding in the spinal canal is a rare situation.


As the process involves breaking a part of your skin, there is always a risk of disease. You may suffer through illness in the puncture are, though it is rare.

Brain compression or Brainstem herniation

: If you have issues in your brain like a tumor or abscess, then the tissue’s leaking can worsen it. It can lead to menacing shifting of brain tissue, which results in compression or brainstem herniation. An MRI or CT scan of your brain before carrying out the process can eliminate any such issue.


Many people fear from lumbar puncture or spinal tap to be an excruciating and uncomfortable procedure. But it is not as bad as people expect it to be. Moreover, the only worst part of the whole process is the pinching you feel from the injection. However, you can experience some complications, but it is not very frequent. The benefits of the procedure generally outweigh the side-effects and risk of the cure. Additionally, if you feel any more problems after going through the process, then consult your doctor.

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