Intrathecal Pain Pump Q & A

What is an intrathecal pain pump?

An intrathecal pain pump is a device that delivers medication to the intrathecal space of your spinal cord. The intrathecal area is the fluid-filled space between the layers of membranes covering the spinal cord.

The intrathecal pain pump introduces analgesic medication into the space near the nerves responsible for your pain signals. This prevents the pain signals from reaching your brain, and you get a significant level of pain relief with a small amount of medication.

You also avoid side effects because the medication doesn’t go through your body as it does with oral medications.

What health conditions might benefit from an intrathecal pain pump?

Your doctor at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® may recommend a pain pump for many types of chronic and acute pain conditions that fail to improve with conservative treatments. The following are a few examples of the conditions treated with an intrathecal pain pump.

  • Cancer pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome

The pain pump can also be used to treat muscle spasticity caused by:

  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis

Spasticity causes painful muscle spasms and muscle rigidity that makes it hard to move your arms and legs.

How is an intrathecal pain pump implanted?

The pump is a round device with a reservoir to hold your medication and a thin catheter that goes from the pump to your spine.

Your doctor at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® surgically implants the pump beneath the skin of your abdomen, then threads the catheter into the intrathecal space of your spine, placing it at the targeted nerves.

Your doctor programs the pump to release your analgesic medication. Depending on your needs, the pump may slowly release a consistent amount or release different doses at various times of the day.

When the pump is empty, your doctor refills the reservoir by inserting a needle through your skin and into a port on the top of the device.

Am I a good candidate for an intrathecal pain pump?

As a general guideline, you may be a good candidate if conservative therapies have failed, you’re not dependent on pain medication, and you’re not allergic to the analgesic medication.

Before implanting an intrathecal pump, you go through a trial to ensure the medication effectively relieves your pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain and would like to consider an intrathecal pain pump, call Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine® or schedule an appointment online.