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Pain pump (intrathecal drug pump)

intrathecal pain pump implant

Overview of pain pumps

An intrathecal drug pump, commonly referred to as 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 while reducing 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.

Which patients are candidates for receiving pain pumps?

Pain pumps are generally recommended for patients with moderate to severe pain who have completed a full course of conservative treatment but who are not deemed a candidate for a more extensive surgical procedure. 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 conduit of the central nervous system, pain pumps can offer relief for symptoms caused by a wide range of conditions and injuries, including:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brain injury and stroke
  • Arachnoiditis, a form of inflammation around the brain and spinal cord
  • Cancer pain
  • Failed back surgery syndrome

Patients who are candidates for pain pump procedures will undergo an initial trial procedure to ensure this is an effective form of treatment.

Pain pump procedure overview

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 surgeon first placing the catheter on the spinal cord and then implanting the pump into the abdominal cavity. This usually involves two small incisions, one in the back and one in the abdomen. 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 procedures

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. USA Spine Care 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.  

Learn more about pain pump procedures at USA Spine Care 

Pain pumps successfully help a large number of patients dealing with chronic pain, muscle spasms and other symptoms reclaim their lives. At USA Spine Care, our board-certified surgeons have extensive experience performing this outpatient procedure.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact our dedicated team today.

Call toll free 1- 866-249-1627.

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