An intrathecal pump delivers pain medicine (such as morphine) directly to the spot that needs it in your back. It is different than taking oral medication, which has to be diffused through your entire body — which means less medication is needed overall. The round, metal pump needs to be surgically implanted under your skin in your abdominal area. Once it is implanted, a catheter will be run from the pump to the fluid around your spinal cord.
The intrathecal pain pump is programmed to release pain medication slowly over time or in greater amounts at certain times of the day. It is refilled by your doctor by inserting a needle through the skin and into the port on top of the device.
What conditions does it treat?
An intrathecal pump is used to relieve severe and chronic back pain from failed back surgery, a spinal cord injury, cancer, and more. You might be a candidate if nothing else has worked for you and if you have to take oral pain medication regularly. Your doctor will likely use a trial of injections first to make sure the direct pain medication works to relieve your pain.
What can I expect afterward?
The pain felt from the surgery itself will go away in a couple of weeks. You should avoid strenuous activity, like bending and heavy lifting, for at least a month. Your doctor will have specific instructions for you about driving, returning to work, and other activities. When it is time to return to your normal activities, you will need to do so gradually. Most patients who suffer from chronic pain note a significant reduction in their pain level with a morphine pump.
You will need to schedule your refills to occur with your doctor on a regular basis. During these visits, you will have a chance to discuss how effective the pump is at controlling your pain.