An intrathecal pain pump is a cutting-edge device that delivers pain relieving medicine directly into an area of the body. It allows you to receive pain medicine directly into the fluid-filled space around your spinal cord (also known as the intrathecal space). While taking medication orally does not always help to alleviate pain, an intrathecal pain pump directly injects the medicine where it will be the most effective.
A pain pump has many benefits over other forms of pain relief, like oral medicines. Since medicine is delivered directly into your spine, you are exposed to significantly smaller doses of whichever medicine you are using. As a result, many patients experience fewer side effects.
Your spine care physician may recommend an intrathecal pain pump if you:
You should always discuss the possible benefits and risks of an intrathecal pain pump with a knowledgeable spine care physician.
The pain pump is a small device that is surgically implanted beneath the skin of your abdomen. The pump holds pain medicine and is programmed to release a dose of medicine at specific times.
A thin tube, called a catheter, runs from the pain pump to the intrathecal space in your spine, steadily delivering microgram doses of medicine around the clock. This is how the medicine gets from the pump to your back.
Before you receive your pain pump, you will undergo a trial run to see if it will help you. Your doctor may inject medicine into your spine to see if it decreases your pain. You will get a chance to feel what having a pump is like before committing to one permanently.
At The Spine Care Center, our pain management experts are also board-certified anesthesiologists. They will keep you comfortable during these injections through either sedation, numbing the area, or a combination of both. You can receive these injections in the fully equipped and certified procedure room at our office, making your care even more convenient.
If the medicine reduces your pain, you can be scheduled for outpatient surgery to place the pain pump. You should not have food or drink after midnight before your surgery. You will also need someone to drive you home from surgery and care for you.
During surgery, you will be asleep under general anesthesia. Your surgeon and several nurses will be with you at all times.
Once you are asleep, you will be rolled onto your side for surgery. First, the spine surgeon will make a small incision in your back. They will guide the catheter through the incision and into the intrathecal space of your spine.
Next, they’ll guide the catheter along the inside of your body to your abdomen, where it will be connected to the pain pump.
Finally, the surgeon will make a small incision on the side of your abdomen, below your ribs. They will place the pump under your skin through this incision. They will connect the catheter to the pump before sewing the pump into place. The pump will attach to the connective tissue in your abdomen (fascia).
Your surgeon will stitch up both incisions and cover them in bandages. You will be moved to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) where you will slowly wake up and be cared for by skilled nurses. They will monitor your blood pressure, breathing, pulse, and other vital signs.
You should be able to go home after about an hour in the PACU. Your surgeon will give you medicines to control post-surgery pain. They will also give you instructions regarding things you can and cannot do after surgery. For instance, you should not sleep on your stomach for several weeks after your surgery. If you have any questions about these instructions, you should always ask your physician.
You should be able to return to normal activities within a month or two after surgery. You should also start to feel back pain relief thanks to the pain pump.
You will need to schedule regular appointments to have your pump refilled with medicine. This is usually done with a short visit to the office two or three times each year. At your appointments, your doctor can refill the pump by inserting a needle directly into the pump. Your pump is fully programmable and the doctor can also adjust the dose as needed to ensure that your pain is minimized.
The Spine Care Center in Manassas is one of the few spine centers in Northern Virginia to offer this advanced back pain management technique. Our highly skilled teams are dedicated to helping you find long-term pain relief so you can return to the activities you love.
Find out if an intrathecal pain pump can improve your back pain. Call The Spine Care Center in Manassas today at (703) 257-2266 or request an appointment online.