Resolving chronic back pain is challenging for both the individual and health care practitioners. Surgery doesn't always work and oral medications can have unpleasant and even serious side effects. If you are dealing with chronic back pain and no treatment has been very effective, having an intrathecal pump surgically implanted might bring you substantial pain relief.
About Intrathecal Medication Delivery
The spinal cord is surrounded by a membrane known as the thecal sac, which contains cerebrospinal fluid. An intrathecal pump provides prescription pain medication directly to the fluid, thus stopping the brain from recognizing pain signals from the spinal nerves. The therapy is useful for people who have undergone a back operation that was unsuccessful, would not benefit from back surgery, are dealing with a chronic health problem such as a tumor in the spinal area, or have other back pain issues that are very difficult to resolve.
Pump Implantation & Function
The surgeon inserts a pump, which contains a medication reservoir, under your abdominal skin. You also will have a catheter implanted in the spinal membrane, and a tube connecting the catheter with the pump. The surgery is done under general anesthesia. The medicine moves directly to the thecal sac through the tube and catheter. The pump releases medication throughout the day; it can be programmed to deliver more during times you know you'll need extra pain relief. All that's required to maintain the treatment is having the doctor refill the pump reservoir with medication when necessary.
Advantages of the Pumps
With a pump, you are likely to experience substantial pain relief with a dramatically lower dose of prescription pain medication. That means you can receive a drug such as morphine or baclofen without having to deal with drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, constipation or other side effects that are relatively common with these drugs in higher doses. Having medication delivered this way means you no longer have to take oral pain medication -- or you can at least lower your dosage significantly. That's important since even over-the-counter ibuprofen causes serious side effects in some individuals, such as intestinal ulcers and internal bleeding.
Talk with your doctor about whether this strategy may be right for you. You'll need to participate in some testing first to determine whether pain medication delivered directly to your spinal area is effective. This may be done with injections or through a catheter with an external pump. If the therapy does prove to be effective, a surgeon will install the equipment so you can experience pain relief and live more fully once again.
For more information and options, contact a neurosurgeon at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates.Share
29 January 2015
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