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How intrathecal pain therapy can help cancer patients’ pain

Cancer pain therapy at Southern Pain ClinicIntrathecal pain therapy plays an important role for many of our chronic-pain patients. It is an effective way to treat their pain and improve their quality of life.

Yet despite its success, intrathecal pain therapy remains underused for one key group: cancer patients.

We'd like to change that.

Modern medicine has made incredible gains in cancer treatment. So much so that the number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis will rise to 19 million by 2024 (from 14.5 million in 2014).

That's incredible. More people survive a cancer diagnosis than ever before. But with this increased survival rate comes an increase in cancer pain.

Chronic pain occurs in 67% of patients with metastatic cancer. It's the most prevalent symptom of patients presenting to palliative care clinics.

Pharmacologic therapies have long been the method to treat cancer chronic pain. But many patients don't experience the level of pain relief they should. That's because they don't receive the right dose of analgesic through traditional methods.

That's why we often recommend chronic pain management treatments, such as intrathecal pain therapy, to cancer patients. With intrathecal pain therapy, the analgesic is delivered directly to the pain receptors.

Who is a viable candidate for intrathecal pain therapy

Patient selection for this form of pain-management therapy is based on these factors:

  • Patient diagnosis and expected survival time
  • Previous opioid history
  • Type and location of the pain
  • Catheter location
  • Support system (friends/family)
  • The patient's likelihood of adhering to the pain management regimen

Before we begin this treatment (which includes the implantation of the intrathecal pump placement) we conduct a thorough exam and consultation with the patient.

We typically recommend this type of treatment after initial attempts at pain control are not achieved.

What is intrathecal pain therapy?

Intrathecal pain therapy works by delivering small doses of analgesic directly into the cerebrospinal fluid to the pain receptors in the spinal cord, blocking the message to the brain.

This allows us to deliver less medication than through other methods. In other words, the body is not flooded with medications. This minimizes unwanted side effects such as grogginess and confusion.

Interested in learning more about intrathecal pain therapy and its benefits to cancer patients? Contact one of our Greater New Orleans pain clinics (Marrero, Metairie, and Covington).

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