Have you ever wondered how oral medicine knows how to find the pain in remote areas of your body? Not only does it have a long way to travel, it also gets digested in your gut and absorbed by your tissues along the way. So, how much is really left to address your pain once it arrives at the scene?
Those are the types of questions that led scientists to develop the pain pump, an implanted device that delivers pain medication directly to your spinal cord.
At Regency Pain & Therapy Institute in Mansfield, Texas, our specialists offer a wide range of pain-relieving treatments, including the pain pump.
Also called an intrathecal pain pump or intrathecal drug delivery, the pain pump delivers medication straight into the intrathecal space of your spinal cord. Here’s how it works and a look at some of the advantages to using a pain pump.
Your spinal cord contains countless nerves that branch out to the rest of your body. When you experience trauma — say, you stub your toe — the event triggers a message that begins in your foot and travels along the nerve pathway until it reaches your spinal cord and then your brain.
Your spine is like the pain traffic control center of your body, so medication delivered to this area is much more effective than a pill you have to swallow. The drug bypasses your digestive tract, mixes with your cerebrospinal fluid, and bathes your entire spine with the pain-relieving medication.
It’s always best to try conservative treatments first, such as physical therapy, oral medication, osteopathic manipulation, and interventional pain management techniques before moving on to the pain pump. But if these measures don’t work for you, a pain pump may. Here are five advantages you may experience:
We implant a medication-filled reservoir in your abdomen that’s programmed to release precise doses of medicine continuously. You won’t have to worry about taking a pill at a certain time of day, and you won’t have to deal with timing your meals around your medication schedule.
And when you run low, we can refill the reservoir with a simple injection.
Oral medicine has to travel through your stomach and the rest of your digestive tract, and each stage breaks it down and absorbs some of it. That means the pill needs to contain a higher dose of medication than you actually need so there’s enough left over to relieve your pain at the end of the journey.
With a pain pump, you only need a fraction of the amount of medication, so you aren’t loading up your body with unnecessary drugs.
Most oral medications come with a long list of side effects. For example, some drugs can make you constipated or give you diarrhea, others can cause nausea and vomiting. Certain drugs make you hyperactive, and others make you drowsy.
By delivering medication straight to your spine, the pain pump helps you avoid many of those negative side effects.
The pain pump eliminates the chance of accidentally taking too much medication. The implanted device stores the preprogrammed dosing information to keep you out of pain and safe from addiction.
The small dose makes the risk of addiction very low, and the automatic dispensing system ensures your safety.
Over time, your pain levels may change, and you may need a higher or lower dose. No problem; we can change the amount of medicine your pain pump releases.
The pain pump also gives you greater control over your pain. Oral medication may take 30-45 minutes to take effect, at which point your pain level may become extreme. But a pain pump delivers a steady low dose that prevents your pain from escalating.
If you’re like most people, you’d like to avoid surgery if at all possible, and that's our goal, too. Other than the implantation, the pain pump enables you to delay or eliminate the need for surgical intervention to resolve your chronic pain.
If your pain stems from a failed previous surgery, or you’re not a good candidate for surgery, then a pain pump can be a great alternative.
The pain pump can be very effective in treating several types of pain, but it’s not for everybody. It’s ideal if you have failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, spastic muscles, or cancer-related pain, to name a few of the conditions the pain pump can help.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for the pain pump, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists by calling our friendly staff today.