FAQ – Intrathecal Pain Pump Questions

Frequently Asked Intrathecal Pain Pump Questions

So an intrathecal pain pump is an option to help manage your back or neck pain. Your doctor will work with you to select the pain treatment system that is most appropriate for your needs. Here are some frequently asked questions about intrathecal pump questions. If you have any other questions regarding an intrathecal pump please discuss them with your doctor.

intrathecal pain pump, image of pump implanted in torso with leads along spine
what is an intrathecal pain pump? image of man holding lower back

What is an Intrathecal Pain Pump?

What is an intrathecal pain pump?

An intrathecal pain pump, a targeted drug delivery system, delivers pain medication directly to the intrathecal space. The intrathecal space is the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord.

Since targeted drug delivery releases medication directly at the source of the pain, more effective pain relief may be achieved. This medication is delivered at lower doses and with fewer or more tolerable side effects. In comparison to oral medications, which travels through your circulatory system before arriving at the source of pain.

Is the pump new?

No. The pump has been approved for the treatment of chronic pain by the FDA since 1991 and has helped thousands of people worldwide. Dr. Castillo has been working with pumps for twenty years, treating hundreds of patients. He believes it to be an effective way to better manage chronic pain.

How Does It Work?

How does a pain pump work?

The implanted pump and catheter release prescribed amounts of pain medication close to the spinal cord. Delivering medicine in the spinal cord affects pain signals before they reach the brain. The pump programming enables your doctor to customize the delivery therapy to meet your needs throughout the day. This delivery program delivers microdoses of medication during the day, and can include boluses for breakthrough pain. The medication in the pump lasts from 2-4 months. You return to your doctor’s office to refill the medication in your pump when it’s out.

Is a pain pump right for me?

Talk to your doctor to determine what kinds of pain treatments would work best for you. The choice of treatment depends on:

  • The type of pain
  • How severe it is
  • How you respond to your pain treatment

If your doctor thinks you are a good candidate for a pain pump, you can complete a pump trial. The pump trial will allow you to experience pain pump therapy to see if you are a good candidate. This trial can last a few days to a week so you can see how it manages your pain in your daily life.

Will It Manage My Pain?

Will the pain pump eliminate other sources of pain?

Your pump will not provide relief from other types of pain, such as headaches, stomachaches, or fractures. The leads from the pump are placed along the spinal cord to provide medication for the source of chronic pain.

Will targeted pain pump delivery completely eliminate my pain?

Many people experience significant improvements in their pain symptoms and quality of life after receiving Medtronic targeted drug delivery. However, realistic expectations are essential to satisfaction with any pain treatment. Targeted drug delivery cannot eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but it may help you to better manage your chronic pain.

Surgery and Afterward:

What is the surgery like?

The surgery to implant the system takes approximately 1 to 3 hours and usually takes place in a hospital or surgery center.

What do I need to know if morphine is prescribed for my pain pump?

Some doctors choose to use morphine in the drug pump. There are risks associated with the use of morphine. For more details, see Morphine Patient Education.

What if I need an MRI?

The Medtronic programmable, targeted drug delivery system allows full-body MRI scans under specific conditions. Your drug pump does not need to be emptied prior to MRI exposure.

It is important to know that the magnetic field of the MRI scanner will temporarily stop your pump motor. It will also stop drug infusion until the MRI exposure is complete. Your pump should then resume its normal operation. Your doctor will need to make sure your normal infusion has resumed after the MRI procedure.

For more information about targeted drug delivery, visit www.tamethepain.com. If you are considering targeted drug delivery, you can also contact a Pump Education Specialist at (888) 430-7246. If you already have a Medtronic drug delivery system, call Medtronic Patient Services at (800) 510-6735.