This is a rare complication that may occur if a small hole is made in the fibrous sac and does not close up after the needle puncture. These small holes are only made in less than 1% of epidural injections and usually heal on their own. The spinal fluid inside can leak out, and when severe, the brain loses the cushioning effect of the fluid, which causes a severe headache when you sit or stand. These types of headaches occur typically about 2-3 days after the procedure and are positional - they come on when you sit or stand and go away when you lie down. If you do develop a spinal headache, it is OK to treat yourself. As long as you do not feel ill and have no fever and the headache goes away when you lay down, you may treat yourself with 24 hours of bed rest with bathroom privileges while drinking plenty of fluids. This almost always works. If it does not, contact the radiologist who performed the procedure or your referring physician. A procedure (called an epidural blood patch) can be performed in the hospital that has a very high success rate in treating spinal headaches.
In many cases, vertebral fractures can be treated through conservative methods such as bed rest, a back brace or pain medication. However, patients with osteoporosis or whose fractures have caused severe, long-term pain may benefit from a minimally invasive procedure such as vertebroplasty to relieve symptoms. This procedure is also recommended for patients who are too weak to undergo spinal surgery, or have a malignant tumor within the spine that has caused vertebral damage. Vertebroplasty is most effective when performed on fractures that are less than six months old.
Dr. Ward is a South Georgia native raised in nearby Mitchell County. He attended Valdosta State College graduating with honors in Biology and Chemistry. Dr. Ward received his Doctor of Medicine Degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. His Internship and Residency in Anesthesiology was completed at Eugene Talmadge Memorial Hospital and University Hospital in Augusta. Dr. Ward had subspecialty training emphasis on regional anesthesia/pain managemet techniques. This subspecialty of Anesthesiology eventually became the recognized subspecialty of Pain Management with specialized training and certification in the late 1990's.