Top Benefits & Risks of Getting an Intrathecal Pump

Jan 29, 2016

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An intrathecal pump, also called a “pain pump,” is a drug delivery therapy which may be able to help reduce your chronic pain such as back pain.

An intrathecal pump, also called a “pain pump,” is a drug delivery therapy which may be able to help reduce your chronic pain such as back pain. It works by delivering medication directly to where it’s needed rather than taking it orally. The benefits of intrathecal pumps can be enormous for many patients, however, there are risks involved as well. Only a board-certified pain physician can help you determine whether an intrathecal pump is right for you.

Top Benefits

  • Reduce or Eliminate Pain Medication – Most patients find that they can reduce or eliminate the use of oral pain medication once they have in intrathecal pump implanted.
  • Fewer Side Effects – Intrathecal pumps typically have much fewer side effects when compared to oral pain medication because the medication is more specifically targeted.
  • Flexibility – The dosage of pain medication administered through the pump can be changed as your needs change. If you experience more pain, the medication can be increased and vice-versa.
  • Trial Test – You don’t have to commit to the treatment right away. Patients undergo a trial test to see how it works for them and a decision can be made afterwards.
  • Not Permanent – Unlike some surgeries, like back surgery, getting an intrathecal pump does not have to be permanent. The device can be turned off or removed at a later time.

Intrathecal pumps are often used in combination with other pain management treatment options to provide a comprehensive approach to chronic pain management.


  • Surgical Complication – While rare, surgical complications are still possible. Some potential complications include an infection or spinal fluid leak.
  • Inflammation – Some patients report inflammation in the area around the catheter.
  • Device Malfunction – It the device malfunctions, surgery may be needed to fix it. Some possible malfunctions include a broken catheter or the pump moving within the body. However, these are rare occurrences.

Only a board-certified New Jersey pain doctor can help you decide whether an intrathecal pump may be right for you. Contact Garden State Pain Control today if you have any questions or you’d like to book an appointment with one of our experienced New Jersey pain physicians.