How Long Does Intrathecal Therapy Last?

You’re tired of ineffective treatments for your chronic pain, or you’re understandably wary of a lifetime of taking painkillers. An intrathecal pump may be your best solution moving forward, but you want to know more about the mechanics of such a therapy.

The goal here at Bux Pain Management is to partner with our patients in their care, and heading the list of our priorities is ensuring that you fully understand your treatment options. To that end, Dr. Anjum Bux and our team outline a few points you should consider when it comes to keeping up with intrathecal pump therapy.

How intrathecal pump therapy works

In order to fully evaluate whether an intrathecal pump is right for your lifestyle and pain relief, it’s important to review the basics.

With this type of therapy, we surgically implant a catheter directly into your spinal cord and the catheter is attached to a pump that contains the medication. We place this pump underneath your skin, typically in your abdominal area where we can easily access it for refills.

This type of pain-management therapy is highly effective in combating chronic pain for several reasons, starting with the fact that by delivering the pain medication directly into your central nervous system, you can experience fast and effective pain relief.

Since we’re going right to the main passageway of your nervous system and bypassing your gastrointestinal tract, you only need about 1/300th the amount of medication you’d normally take orally.

Lastly, the pump is prefilled and programmed by us to automatically deliver the dosages you need, taking any guesswork out of your pain relief treatment.

Coming back in for refills and pump replacement

The pump that we implant in your abdomen carries about 8-12 weeks worth of medication, and you come to us on a regular schedule for refills. To fill the pump, we insert a needle through your skin and fill the reservoir.

The pump itself is battery-powered, and we can reprogram it at any time to adjust your medications.

In most cases, intrathecal pump batteries last 5-10 years. Rest assured, we’re able to track the life of the battery so we can replace the pump when it comes time. 

When we replace the unit, we do so using the same techniques we used to install your intrathecal pump the first time around.

How long do you keep your intrathecal pump?

The answer to this question is difficult to evaluate here. Should all go well and you experience meaningful pain relief, you may use intrathecal pump therapy long into the future, replacing the units whenever the battery wears out.

If you’re not satisfied with intrathecal pump therapy, and you want to try a different pain-management option, we can simply remove the pump and catheter during a quick outpatient procedure.

If you have more questions about using an intrathecal pump, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our locations in Lexington, Cynthiana, or Danville, Kentucky,


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