Technology is changing the landscape of how doctors can treat pain in patients. Intrathecal pump implants are one way some patients are finding relief from chronic pain conditions.

This medical device is implanted into the space between the spinal cord and the protective sheath that surrounds it. The pump is then used to deliver medications directly to the affected area. Medications can include morphine or ziconotide, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Patients with intolerable pain or certain specific conditions are considered good candidates for intrathecal pump implants. 

The device is implanted during a surgical procedure and patients are educated about their function, use, and care.

There are many advantages to intrathecal pump implants, including:

  • A trial period to determine if the implant will be effective long term
  • A non-permanent solution to back pain that can be removed or turned off if no longer necessary, unlike surgical treatments
  • A targeted dose of the medication that impacts the source of the pain directly rather than relying on the circulation of the drug in the entire system

As with all procedures and technology of this nature, there are a number of risks to be aware of when it comes to intrathecal pump implants. Talk to your pain specialist about the possible risks of drug overdoses or underdoses with the use of these implants. Also consider recent research by cybersecurity specialist Jay Radcliffe. Radcliffe was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and used an insulin pump to control his symptoms. His research brought attention to a potential safety concern surrounding implanted medical devices which he proved could be hacked. As a result, the companies that manufacture these pumps are working harder to ensure they are safe for consumers.

Technology such as intrathecal pump implants can change the lives of individuals dealing with chronic pain conditions that don’t respond to more conventional methods.

Do you believe that an intrathecal pump implant could improve your quality of life? 

Image by Spirit-Fire via Flickr


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