A Pain in the Back, Part 2

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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lumbar puncture, back pain

Second in a series. Read part one.

Last week, I wrote about solving my back problems by purchasing a mattress topper for my bed.

It was a good thing, too, as I was going into the hospital for a lumbar puncture.

It was as if I planned it; well, my subconscious might have, but I’m certainly not that organized. I’m putting it down to synchronicity, (a) because it’s a big word I know, and (b) because I hardly ever get to use it!

In the U.K., hospitals require a lumbar puncture to irrevocably prove that a patient has MS. So, I’d had one in 2009. Now, it was to test for the JC virus, as I am a candidate for the newly NICE-approved therapy Ocrevus. The odds aren’t great: Some 40-90 percent of the population has been exposed to it.

I remember lumbar punctures being uncomfortable. This time it was excruciating.

It also failed!

There is something deeply disconcerting about hearing a doctor mumble behind you that he’s just got to go off and get a bigger needle. I think he might have had five attempts.

Do you suffer from back pain? How do you manage it? Join the discussion and share your own tips in our MS forums.

It’s difficult to remember, as I was trying to ignore his efforts. I’m of an age in which caning at school was de rigueur. For some reason, exhibiting a fast wit only encouraged teachers to get physical. You’d have thought I learned my lesson, but it seems the only lesson I learned was that getting a laugh was worth it. Also, it is perhaps the closest I’ll ever get to meditation. If your body is going to suffer pain, it is the ideal time to get out of it!

A tad of spinal fluid was extracted, but nowhere near enough. So, I’m going back in a few weeks for an X-ray guided attempt.

It transpires that the spinal fluid then will be sent to Denmark for analysis. In exactly six months, the U.K. is supposed to leave the European Union; at the moment, absolutely no agreement for anything is in place. So, I’m literally getting in under the wire. Here’s hoping the use of technology will be able to get into my spine!

One of the more bizarre facts just released by our government regarding Brexit is that 50 percent of the donated sperm we use for IVF treatment is also imported from Denmark.

Who knew?

You’d think you’d bump into at least one kid called Hamlet!


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Wanda Tylicki avatar

Wanda Tylicki

Under fluoroscopy it really is easy and way easier.

R avatar


I got tested for the JC virus from a blood sample. What are you all doin´over there?
No one, so far, has gotten PML from Ocrevus.

Cynthia King avatar

Cynthia King

25 years of spastic back muscles have left me with poor posture and my vertebrae slipping forward And severe spinal stenosis. I don't know if years of solumedrol created my crummy bone stock or just being a post menopausal woman, but unbeknownst to me I have end plate fractures in L3 & L4. The best answer so far has been sleeping in a power recliner (so that I can adjust the angle relative to the days pain) as I am unable to lay on my back flat for any length of time, and physical therapy. PT is so essential to MS those four letters should appear next to each other in the alphabet. I figure someday I'll need to get an adjustable bed but this works for me right now.

Scott avatar


After the original MRI and possibly a spinal puncture, I don’t understand how it would change the course of treatment once you have been diagnosed. It just seems to be the routine to do yearly MRIs and lumbar punctures. Active leases do not necessarily correlate with disability in many cases.My neurologist told me it wasn’t necessary to have a lumbar puncture, that my MRI and symptoms were enough to diagnose me. I have no doubt had multiple sclerosis for at least 10 years now without the lumbar. You have a choice of one of a dozen drugs. I would dare to say most of us have tried at least two or three at 10 years. What more do you need to know to prescribe a treatment.

John Connor avatar

John Connor

I was informed by my MS Nurse at Charing Cross Hospital that they only do this here. They are concerned that if JC Virus is found in the spinal fluid it might cause brain damage.


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