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Pain Pump

An intrathecal pump or "pain pump" is a device that delivers small amounts of pain medication, such as morphine or baclofen, directly into the spinal fluid. When given in small doses, pain medications can minimize the side effects often seen with larger oral doses of the same drugs.

A pump can reduce pain associated with failed back surgery, cancer, or nerve pain. It can also reduce spasticity or muscle stiffness in patients with:

A trial intrathecal injection or a temporary intrathecal pump is usually done to determine if the drug is effective and whether a permanent pump is appropriate.

The intrathecal pump itself consists of a metal pump that stores and delivers the drug, and a catheter that delivers the drug into the space around the spinal cord. The pump can be programmed to release the drug slowly over a period of time or to deliver the drug at different times of the day.

How to administer an intrathecal drug pain pump

To implant the device, the neurosurgeon makes a small incision in the lower back to insert the catheter into the affected area of the spine. An extension catheter is then passed subcutaneously through the spine around the trunk into the abdomen where the pump is implanted.

Intrathecal drug pain pump benefits

Patients with chronic pain may experience a reduction in pain as well as an overall improvement in activities of daily living, and patients with spasticity experience a reduction in stiffness and muscle spasms. Because the drugs in the pump are delivered directly to the spinal cord, oral medications and their side effects are greatly reduced, so much smaller doses are needed.​

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