Living with chronic pain can change a person’s entire lifestyle. Discomfort can be caused from leisurely walks, bike rides, playing with children or grandchildren, and sometimes when a person is doing nothing at all. Chronic pain can also lead to overnight discomfort, causing sleepless nights and daunting days. If you’re currently experiencing chronic or persistent pain, incorporating a pain pump (intrathecal pain pump) into your care plan may be a great course of action. Follow along below to educate yourself, and see if this is a viable option for you!
What is an intrathecal pain pump?
An intrathecal pain pump (pain pump) is a small medical device that is inserted into a patient’s body to deliver medication directly to the spinal cord/fluid. The device consists of two parts – the pump itself, which contains a reservoir that holds the medication, and a catheter that delivers the medication to the spinal cord/fluid. Depending on the type of pump used, the medication can be delivered at a fixed rate (through a consistent flow) or a variable rate (adjusted for your needs).
What is the process for receiving a pain pump?
The first step in the process, as with any medical procedure or plan, is a conversation with a doctor. If a patient’s evaluation determines that they are an ideal candidate for a permanent pain pump, the next step is to undergo a trial before the implantation of a permanent pump is scheduled. The trial allows the doctor to evaluate the degree of relief, and note any side effects before a pump is installed. If the patient is deemed a good candidate for the device by their doctor, and decide for themselves that it is the right option, the implantation will be scheduled.
The implantation process is a minimally invasive procedure, allowing most patients to leave the same day or the morning following their implantation. The doctor will first place a catheter into the fluid surrounding the patient’s spinal cord. Next, a small incision will be made at the patient’s waistline where they will place the device, just below the skin.
How long is recovery following the implantation?
Typically, full recovery is complete between 6-8 weeks following your implantation procedure. Some patient’s experience discomfort in the initial week following their procedure, but within a few weeks can return to normal activities such as walking, riding bikes, or attending gatherings and seeing a movie.
How do you refill a pain pump?
Refill appointments usually last between 10-15 minutes. The doctor will evaluate the patient’s progress and assess their symptoms to ensure the dosage and medication given are both still effective in helping them achieve the reduced pain or pain-free lifestyle they are looking for. The pump will be emptied with a needle that is inserted after local sedation. The pump will then be refilled with medication. The frequency of these visits will vary for all patients as they are dependent on the patient’s dosage and the size of the pain pump the patient has.
What differentiates a pain pump from oral pain medication?
Because the pain pump delivers medication directly into a patient’s spinal fluid, reaching spinal nerves, pain signals are decreased before reaching the brain. Additionally, the pain medication is absorbed more quickly, allowing pain pumps to be more effective with less dosage than their oral counterparts. In fact, pain pumps use approximately 1/300 the amount of drugs than oral medications. Pain pumps can administer many different medications including morphine, hydromorphone, ziconotide, and baclofen.
If you believe a pain pump could benefit you on your journey to a more enjoyable, long-lasting, lifestyle, contact our team today. We are happy to schedule an appointment, or consultation, with one of our doctor’s versed in this topic.