Back Pain Treatments: Implanted Drug Infusion

Implanted drug infusion involves the insertion of a permanent pump into a patient's body that delivers a pain relieving medicine into the epidural space of the spinal cord at regular time intervals. An implanted drug infusion device, delivers medication to the damaged section(s) of the spine, as opposed to electrical stimulation, as spinal cord stimulation devices do. Unlike other pain management treatments for back pain, this type of treatment does not involve oral medications, or the need to make frequent medical appointments.

Implanted Drug Infusion: Implanted drug infusion (intraspinal drug infusion therapy) and spinal cord stimulation (SCS) both involve the implantation of a permanent device that delivers treatment to the affected area of the spine that causes back pain. unlike the SCS system, the implanted drug infusion device delivers analgesic medication to the spine, not electrical stimulation. The medication that is delivered (often morphine) is analgesic in nature, and not intended to reduce inflammation or to stimulate blood blow; the medication's purpose is primarily to relieve pain.

Implanted drug infusion therapy involves implanting a "pump" that delivers a regular, predetermined dose of pain medication into the degenerated or damaged area of the spine thought to be involved with back pain, or pain in the hip, buttocks, or leg. Because the medication is delivered directly to the affected area, rather than having to be taken orally where it has to travel throughout the bloodstream and body, the doses required to produce significant pain relief at much lower. These lower doses mean that the toll taken on the body's kidney and liver to detoxify and remove these drugs from the body will be much less. The pump component of the implanted drug infusion device will be implanted into the abdomen in front of the spine or in the upper buttocks, typically. This pump will feed the medication to the painful area of the spine via a thin tube. The much smaller doses delivered directly to the spine result in a much lower toxicity of the narcotic agent due to its much more minute levels in the body, and will significant lower the risk of tolerance or addiction.

Why it's Done: Though the risks and side effects associated with this type of therapy are relatively low, it is a serious procedure that won't be taken likely by you or your doctor. Typically, by the time patients arrives at the point where this therapy is considered, they will have usually failed several other types of treatment, including physiotherapy, oral NSAID medications, narcotic medications, chiropractic, and one or more types of back surgery.

How it's done: The evaluation, implantation, and continued use of this device is usually done in two stages. In the first stage, the patient will have a temporary pump inserted for a few days observation period before the doctor and patient together determine whether not to proceed onto a permanent use of this system. A pump is inserted that stays outside the body, followed by the threading of a thin tube, from the pump, to the painful area of the spine or spinal cord. This system will remain in place for a few days, where the patient will keep a record symptom relief, if any. If patient's report a successful outcome in the form of back pain relief, their doctor may permanently implant it.