Intrathecal Pump

An Intrathecal Pump is a small device that administers medication directly to the spinal cord. When conservative therapies have not helped individuals suffering from chronic back pain, an intrathecal pump may be an effective method to reduce pain symptoms.

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Intrathecal Pump

An intrathecal pump (or pain pump) is a small medical device that is surgically placed in the body. The pain pump delivers medicine directly into the intrathecal space of the spinal cord from its own reservoir. The pump is connected to a small catheter which administers medications around the spinal cord. 

Our pain specialists with thoroughly evaluate your pain symptoms to see if an intrathecal pump is right for. View our locations or Contact us today to get started!

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Intrathecal Pump Treatment Guide

A comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about our providers, locations, conditions we treat, treatments we offer, and many other frequently asked questions!

A comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about our providers, locations, conditions we treat, treatments we offer, and many other frequently asked questions!

We Accept All Insurances

Individualized Patient Care

Board Certified Doctors

Patients Seen Within Two Weeks

Intrathecal Pump - How It Works

The spinal cord (and the spinal cord nerves) receive pain signals and send them through the body. With an intrathecal pain pump, medication is delivered directly, bypassing the path that oral medications take. This allows for pain symptoms to be treated more effectively with less body-wide side effects. Pain symptoms can also be managed with a smaller dose of medication.  

Patients who have an intrathecal pain pump will not have to remember to take their oral medications because the pump will self-administer. 

A pain pump can be an ideal solution for those who have suffered from a failed back surgery, cancer pain, sciatica, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and/or chronic pancreatitis

For others, a pain pump could be utilized to treat the pain symptoms of other underlying conditions. For example, the intrathecal pain pump can lessen spasticity (muscle spasms and rigidity) caused by: 

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): A brain and spinal cord disorder that causes damage to nerve cells
  • Cerebral Palsy: A disorder that affects a person’s ability to move or maintain balance
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Brain injury 

An intrathecal pain pump can provide effective pain relief, reduced side effects from oral medications, and improve the quality of your life.

Intrathecal Pump Trial

Potential candidates for a permanent pain pump will first have a trial procedure. This trial pump procedure will help determine if the patient will be a good candidate for a permanent pump placement.  

 An intrathecal pain pump trial can help determine how successful a permanent implant will be and the appropriate amount of medication it will take to treat your pain symptoms. The titration (or dosage information) will establish the appropriate amount of medication needed to provide the patient with the maximum pain relief with minimal side effects.  

A pump trial will place a cathaeter in the intrathecal space, closely resembling the experience of a permanently placed pump. The catheter and the pump are worn outside of the body, and will administer medication to ease the patient’s pain.  

Pump trials are performed on an outpatient procedure, and may last several days. If the patient experiences 50% relief (or more) from their pain symptoms the trial is considered successful. With a positive result from the pain pump trial, a patient can move forward with a permanently placed intrathecal pump.  

Intrathecal Pump Implant

After a successful trial, the patient will be able to move forward with getting their pain pump implanted. Neurosurgeons who specialize in pain management will implant the pain pump.  

The procedure will be done with general anesthesia, and a small incision made in the middle back to place the catheter and another incision made to the side of the abdomen for the pump. The catheter is attached to the pump (which has the reservoir with medication). The surgeon fills the reservoir with medication during the placement. 

Pain pumps can be programmed to suit individual pain needs allowing for more effective management of chronic pain.  

With a more targeted delivery of medication patients are able to mitigate their pain with lower doses of medication.  

Post Pump Implant

A full recovery after having the intrathecal pump surgically implanted may take 6-8 weeks. Patients will be limited to light activity, with some restrictions on their movement. The patient will then have to return to their pain management practice periodically to have the reservoir refilled with more medication. Patients will also be able to discuss with their specialists if doses need to be adjusted and their health journey goals.

How To Get Started

If you would like more information about an intrathecal pain pump or the pump trial, please call Pain and Spine Specialists and speak to our dedicated team to improve the quality of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Intrathecal Pump FAQ's

What types of doctors offer Intrathecal Pump?

The Intrathecal Pump is offered by various types of doctors including anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and physiatrists. However, a pain management specialist is often the primary doctor who manages this treatment.

Is Intrathecal Pump covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies cover Intrathecal Pump therapy, but it varies based on your insurance plan and provider. It's always best to check with your insurance provider for specifics about your coverage.

What are the alternatives to Intrathecal Pump treatment?

Alternatives to Intrathecal Pump treatment can include oral medications, physical therapy, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, and surgery depending on the nature and severity of the condition.

Is Intrathecal Pump considered minimally invasive?

Yes, Intrathecal Pump implantation is typically considered a minimally invasive procedure since it doesn't require a large incision or extensive tissue damage.

How do I find an Intrathecal Pump treatment center near me?

You can consult with your primary care doctor or pain management specialist for referrals. Online health platforms like Healthgrades or Zocdoc might also help you find nearby treatment centers.

How do I find an Intrathecal Pump specialist near me?

Your primary care physician can often provide a referral to a specialist. Alternatively, websites such as WebMD and Healthgrades allow you to search for specialists in your area.

Is Intrathecal Pump considered a minimally invasive treatment?

Yes, Intrathecal Pump is considered a minimally invasive treatment. It involves a small incision and usually has a quicker recovery time compared to more invasive surgeries.

How much does Intrathecal Pump cost?

The cost of an Intrathecal Pump can vary widely depending on factors like your location, the hospital or clinic, and your insurance coverage. It's best to consult with your healthcare provider and insurance company for specific cost information.

What treatments are often tried before considering Intrathecal Pump?

Prior to considering an Intrathecal Pump, doctors may try treatments like medication management, physical therapy, nerve blocks, or even alternative therapies like acupuncture.

What are the reviews for Intrathecal Pump?

Reviews for Intrathecal Pump vary, with many patients reporting significant relief from chronic pain. However, like any medical procedure, it's important to discuss potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.

Do Medicare and Medicaid cover Intrathecal Pump?

Medicare and Medicaid often cover Intrathecal Pump therapy, but coverage can vary depending on your specific plan and state. It's recommended to check with your plan provider for details.

Billing / Insurance Questions

We Accept All Insurances!

That includes Medicare and state Medicaid.

How Soon Can I Be Seen?

Usually within one week of the initial call.

Appointments can be schedule by phone or through our contact form here.

What To Expect During Appointments

At Pain and Spine Specialists we provide comprehensive pain care while offering the most up-to-date minimally invasive techniques. Our ethos is to treat each patient (and potential patient) as if they were a family member.

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Patient Portal / Policies

At Pain and Spine Specialists we want to provide the most efficient and pleasurable experience possible. As in all medical facilities, we have certain policies in place to ensure that you receive the time you require to address your needs as well as enhance your experience while in our care.

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Reviews and Testimonials

We encourage patient feedback to better improve your experience. We strive to create a friendly and warm environment where patients feel their voices are heard and validated.

View our patient reviews here.

Intrathecal Pump Doctors in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia

At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to quality care, and that is why you can find us conveniently located throughout MarylandPennsylvania, and Virginia.