An intrathecal drug pump, commonly called a pain pump, is a small device that is implanted in the abdomen. A pain pump injects small doses of medication directly into the spinal cord.
There are a number of advantages to this approach and it can help certain patients find relief from chronic pain. It also can reduce some potential side effects of oral medication.
We’ve provided the following information on this procedure to help patients make a treatment decision that matches their needs and lifestyles. To find out more about our procedures, the conditions we treat, or our medical team, you can get in touch with our team at any time.
Who Receives Pain Pumps?
Pain pumps are generally recommended for patients with moderate to severe pain who have completed a full course of initial pain management, but who are not candidates for more extensive spine surgery.
Because the pump device allows for a controlled release of medication directly to the spinal cord, it can offer much greater pain relief without the larger doses required from medication taken by mouth.
Because the spinal cord is the main path of the nervous system, pain pumps offer relief for symptoms caused by a wide range of conditions and injuries, including:
Spinal cord injuries
Brain injury and stroke
Arachnoiditis is a form of inflammation around the brain and spinal cord
Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)
Patients who are candidates for pain pump procedures will undergo an initial trial to ensure this is an effective form of treatment.
Before implanting the device permanently, surgeons will first attempt a trial to determine effective dosage and placement. Methods can include one or more direct injections of the medication or a catheter connected to an external pump.
The procedure to implant a pump permanently is performed on an outpatient basis and involves the following steps:
The surgeon makes two small incisions, one in the back and one in the abdomen
The surgeon first places the catheter on the spinal cord
He or she then implants the pump into the abdominal cavity.
Upon recovery, patients receive discharge and incision care instructions from the medical team.
Pain pumps require periodic refills and maintenance from your surgeon. At these visits, patients can report the effectiveness of the medication and work to adjust the dosage. The objective is to find a minimum dose that offers meaningful pain reduction and improved mobility.
Cost for Pain Pump Procedure
The cost for the trial and implant of a pain pump can vary depending on factors such as the type of procedure required, the location of the pump, and the method of payment. Medicare will typically cover therapeutic injections if they are deemed necessary by a physician and administered by a qualified professional. BEST Health System facilities accept patients with Medicare, most private health insurances, as well as workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. One of our representatives can answer any questions you have about cost.
Pain pumps successfully help a large number of patients dealing with chronic pain, muscle spasms, and other symptoms reclaim their lives. At BEST Health System, our board-certified surgeons have extensive experience performing this outpatient procedure.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact our dedicated team today.
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