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Key Things to Know About Intrathecal Pumps

An intrathecal pump is a medical device that is used to deliver medication directly into the area between your spinal chord and the protective sheath around it. By delivering medications in this way, many of the side effects associated with medications taken orally or intravenously may be either reduced or eliminated.

Benefits of an Intrathecal Pump

  • Provides a good alternative to individuals with chronic pain (such as joint pain) who cannot tolerate the effects of stronger oral medication.
  • Can help in cases where the patient is unlikely to benefit from additional surgery.
  • Can help reduce dependency of oral pain medication.

What Can it Be Used to Treat?

Failed back surgery syndrome – This is when one or more previous surgeries have failed to control your pain.
Causalgia – This is a burning sensation that may occur if you have suffered a peripheral nerve injury.
Pain Caused by Cancer – This may include pain caused by tumors pressing against your spinal nerves or scarring from radiation therapy.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Before actually implanting the drug pump, you should first do a trial in order to help determine whether the treatment will be effective at easing your pain.
If the trial yields good results, the next step would be to move on to surgery. First, you will be given anesthesia. Once you fall asleep the procedure will begin.

  1. A small incision is made in the center of your back. A catheter will be positioned in the intrathecal space above your spinal cord.
  2. An extension catheter is placed from the spine to your abdomen where the actual pump will be implanted.
  3. The intrathecal pump is placed in the abdomen, the extension catheter is attached, and the incision is closed.

Depending on the underlying condition that is causing your pain, the results of the procedure may vary from person to person. Most patients will notice reduced levels of pain, a heightened ability to do normal daily activities, and require less oral medication.

If you are suffering from chronic pain and past treatments have been unable to help, an intrathecal pump may be beneficial. Contact Garden State Pain Control today to speak with a board-certified New Jersey pain physician and discuss whether an intrathecal pump may be right for you.

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