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.
The procedure may require 2-3 administrators, depending on if you asked for mild sedation to be more comfortable, but most times it will be your doctor and an assistant. Your neck will be sterilized and numbed locally, and then using real time x-ray equipment, your doctor will place the needle in the correct space and release the medication. Your doctor may ask you questions during the procedure to maximize your comfort. When this is finished you will be required to wait a small amount of time before leaving. You will be instructed on proper aftercare, which medications to avoid, and when to expect a follow up call to record your pain levels post injection.
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