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Intrathecal Drug Delivery

When you have chronic back pain, your entire life can be turned upside down. Even simple, everyday tasks become burdensome chores. Oral pain medications may help, but managing different doses and pills can be troublesome. 

Now there’s a better solution: Intrathecal drug delivery. At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, board-certified physician John Huffman, MD, offers intrathecal drug pumps as part of our pain management services to patients suffering from severe and chronic pain.

Read on to learn more about this innovative way to alleviate your pain safely and effectively!      

What is intrathecal drug delivery?

Intrathecal drug delivery involves implanting a small pump about the size of a hockey puck that delivers small doses of pain medication directly into your spinal fluid. The medication and dosage information is programmed through a catheter.

At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists, your provider customizes the frequency and amount of pain medicine you receive depending on your needs. New technology in pain pumps means today’s intrathecal pain pumps are far less likely to result in fibrosis, a side effect of the treatment, than pain pumps from years ago. 

What conditions does intrathecal drug delivery help?

Intrathecal drug delivery is typically used with chronic spine pain. After a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Huffman recommends the best pain management solution for your needs. Conservative treatments, such as traditional medication and physical therapy, are typically the first step in your treatment plan. 

If more conservative treatments don’t provide you with relief or if you have debilitating and chronic pain caused by a spinal injury or disease, a pain pump may be a better way to manage your symptoms. The procedure is reversible, so your pain pump can be removed at any time.

Am I a candidate for intrathecal drug delivery?

After a thorough physical exam and review of your medical history, Dr. Huffman determines whether you might be a good candidate for intrathecal drug delivery. Before having the pump implanted, however, you undergo a trial procedure 

The intrathecal trial involves a shot of pain medication delivered by catheter directly into your spinal fluid. If this trial dose provides you with adequate pain relief, you may be a candidate for a pain pump.  

Getting the more-permanent pain pump involves general anesthesia or sedation. Dr. Huffman prescribes pain medicine to control the pain from the incision and implantation procedure. The procedure is an out-patient treatment, but you’ll need someone to drive you home. 

How quickly will I experience pain relief?

A few days after you receive your pain pump, Dr. Huffman will meet with you to adjust the dosage and timing of your pump. You should experience pain relief rather quickly, though you’ll need to work with the team at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists to continue optimizing your pump settings to maximize your pain relief. 

Interested in learning more about intrathecal drug delivery? Contact Dr. Huffman at our Northern Virginia office to schedule a visit or book an in-person or telehealth appointment online now!

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