Intrathecal Therapy Q & A
What is intrathecal therapy?
Intrathecal therapy uses a small internal pump to deliver medication directly into your spinal fluid. The treatment, an alternative to oral medication, works to relieve all types of chronic pain, including back pain.
Because intrathecal therapy provides relief at the site of your pain, it requires a lower dose of medication than oral pain medicines. Not only does this result in more efficient pain relief, but it also reduces or eliminates your dependency on oral drugs.
How does intrathecal therapy work?
The intrathecal system consists of an implantable pump and catheter that directly carries pain medication to the spinal cord. The pump is round and about three inches wide and less than an inch deep. It’s preprogrammed to deliver a set dose of medicine.
Dr. Bux inserts the medication through an access port on your pump. It slowly releases the medicine into your system, so you never receive too much.
For patients who struggle with the side effects of or dependency on oral medication, intrathecal can be an effective alternative that doesn’t require invasive surgery.
Is intrathecal therapy right for me?
If you have chronic pain that hasn’t responded well to oral medicine alone, intrathecal therapy could be right for you. Intrathecal treatment can provide lasting pain relief for conditions like:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Nerve damage
- Pain after surgery
- Cancer pain
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Herniated discs
What makes intrathecal therapy unique for chronic pain sufferers is that Dr. Bux offers a trial period. During this trial, he injects pain medicine directly into your intrathecal space. This should give you an idea of how the treatment will feel if you choose to go ahead with it.
What happens during the intrathecal therapy procedure?
Before you come in for the procedure, talk to Dr. Bux about any medicines you’re taking. It’s important to stop taking anticoagulation medicines (drugs that slow blood clotting) before the procedure to lessen your risk of complications.
After Dr. Bux takes you to the surgical area, he administers an intravenous (IV) sedation. He then makes a small incision in your back or abdomen, just beneath the skin. He does the procedure with the guidance of X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) for precision.
Through the incision, Dr. Bux inserts the catheter into the intrathecal space, the fluid-filled space between the inner and middle layers of the tissue covering your spinal column. The other end is attached to a small pump. Finally, he closes up your sutures and places a wound vac to prevent infection.
What happens after the intrathecal therapy procedure?
Intrathecal therapy is an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure. You can return home to recover shortly after the procedure. While you can expect soreness at the surgical site for a short time, intrathecal therapy starts working immediately after placement to reduce your chronic pain.
To learn more about intrathecal therapy and its benefits, call Bux Pain Management today or schedule an appointment online.