Intrathecal pain pumps - how to maintain them
Intrathecal pain pumps are an effective way to treat the symptoms of chronic pain, because they deliver medication directly to a patient's spinal cord.
Because of this direct route from medication to spinal cord (vs. traveling through the blood or digestive system), our patients' chronic pain symptoms can be controlled with a lower dose of medication, when compared with oral medication.
We use this treatment method for patients who visit us in our Greater New Orleans chronic pain clinics when other traditional methods have failed to relieve long-term pain.
Once we determine that an intrathecal pain pump is the correct course of treatment for a patient, it's important for our patient to know what to expect following their procedure.
Immediately after the procedure, you can expect to experience some discomfort. This discomfort can be managed with certain medications under your doctor's supervision.
You'll also to adhere to certain restrictions for the first few weeks, including:
- Avoid bending, twisting, stretching, raising your arms above your head or lifting objects heavier than 5 pounds for up to 8 weeks
- Also, avoid sleeping on your stomach, climbing too many stairs, or sitting for long periods of time for up to 8 weeks
- Do not drive for up to 4 weeks
You'll want to inspect the incision line twice daily. If you notice fluid accumulate under the skin near the catheter/leads, call your doctor.
You should also call your doctor if your temperature exceeds 101 degrees F, or if the incision begins to separate.
Following those first few weeks - living with an intrathecal pump
You must schedule medication refills on a regular basis with one of our pain specialists. During this appointment, we'll assess the effectiveness of your treatment. And we'll adjust your pump accordingly.
Our goal is to find the optimal amount of pain control with the minimum amount of side effects. That's why it's incredibly important that you share with us any unusual symptoms, or if you feel the dosage is ineffective.
Similar to cardiac pacemakers, devices such as cell phones, pagers, microwaves, and security doors will not affect your pump. But be sure to carry your Implanted Device Identification Card with you when flying, as the device will be detected at security gates.
What if you hear a beeping noise from your pump?
If this occurs, call your doctor's office immediately. This beeping noise may indicate that your pump needs a refill, the battery needs to be replaced, or some other maintenance issue.
We also strongly encourage you to inform family members and friends about what to do in an emergency. It's advised you carry your Emergency Information and Procedure cards with you at all times.
If you have any questions about this procedure or would like to schedule a consultation, contact Southern Pain and Neurological today. We have offices in Marrero, Metairie, and Covington.