Intrathecal Pain Pump

Many medications for pain management are given by injection or taken by mouth. There are disadvantages that can result from this: the medication must travel through the entire bloodstream prior to there being any pain relief for the nerves in your body and brain. For many patients, this causes side effects that can last for quite some time including drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression. As time continues to pass, the body may become used to the medication, requiring much higher does to treat this pain.


Pain pumps are implanted under the skin and deliver medication directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Medication is delivered using the pump, which delivers lower doses than if taken by mouth.

There is a two-step process prior to implanting a pain pump. The first being a neuropsychological evaluation that is done with a counselor. The second is an injection of medicine into the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord, we then access for side effects and pain control of the medicine. Patients then come in the following day and have a discussion with the doctor about the pain relief and if they would like to move forward with an implant of a pain pump.

Pain Pump Implants

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Before having this procedure, be sure to confirm your insurance coverage along with the surgery center or hospital the procedure will be done at.

Be sure to have a discussion with your doctor about the medication you’re taking regularly, as well as any medicine you might be allergic to.

Arrange to have someone accompany you to the surgery center or the hospital depending on where you have the surgery done, make sure they can drive you afterwards as well. Having a family member or friend assist you in your home the following the procedure for a couple days would help as well.

Before your surgery, your doctor will discuss with you whether your abdomen or your lower back is the best position to place your pump.

Sedation will be administered comfortably and monitored by an anesthesiologist during the surgery. The physician will either make an incision in the skin of your back or in your abdomen to place the pump. Then, a second incision will be made in your back to allow the catheter to be placed near the spinal cord.

The doctor will then carefully place connect the other end of the catheter to the pump stem tip where it will be utilized for medication therapy, making the entire system internal and fully implanted. Once the pump and catheter have been placed in their positions, the doctor will suture both pockets up and confirm the procedure has been completed.

Patients will have a 3 day and 10 day follow up with the doctor to confirm incisions are healthy and medication therapy is smoothly running. In general, your doctor will recommend avoiding activities such as bending, lifting and twisting until healing is fully or almost fully complete.

Over some time, tenderness around the pump and catheter incisions will subside, and you will begin to notice less of the system itself. Once healed, the surgical sites need no special care and you will be able to make more of a schedule for your refills.

Pain Pump Trials