The claim: Coffee eases headaches from epidural injections.
The facts: Headaches can be an excruciating side effect of routine procedures that involve puncturing the middle and lower back, including spinal taps and anaesthetic injections like epidurals.
Doctors and medical texts have long advocated a simple antidote: a cup of Java. One theory is that the caffeine narrows the cerebral blood vessels, which helps reverse the dilation of a blood vessel that occurs when a puncture causes cerebrospinal fluid to leak. Research, however, suggests it does not help.
In 2007, researches at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona reviewed several randomised studies that looked at caffeine as a treatment for the condition, known as postdural puncture headache, and found no evidence that it worked.
That echoed the findings of a separate study at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, which found slim evidence supporting caffeine or another popular antidote – more fluid intake.
Other studies suggest that the most effective treatment is one called epidural blood patching. It can invasive but it relieves headaches in 85 to 98 per cent of patients. It also helps when smaller needles are used.
The bottom line: Studies suggest caffeine is not an effective treatment for headaches caused by lumbar-puncture procedures like epidurals.
- The New York Times