Pain & Spasticity Pumps

Targeted drug delivery system
for pain management in Tampa Bay

Providing a personal approach, advanced therapies and compassionate care for patients no matter where they are in their cancer journey

What is a Pain/Spasticity Pump?

A Pain/Spasticity Pump (also known as an Intrathecal Drug Delivery System or Targeted Drug Delivery) is a medical device that is fully implanted in the patient’s body and delivers medication. The medication is stored in a reservoir inside the pump and is delivered continuously though a small tube, called a catheter, into the fluid around the spinal cord (called the intrathecal space). The pump is about the size of a hockey puck and the catheter the size of a strand of angel hair pasta.

The pump typically holds one to three months of medication and is refilled using a small needle to access the medication reservoir. Refilling the pump is relatively painless and takes about five minutes.

This device allows the patient to use a much smaller, targeted dose of medication, which may lessen the side effects and improve pain and/or spasticity control. At HOPE, our providers practice personalized medicine and the medication in the pump is custom ordered for each patient and their specific pain and tolerance.

Advantages Of Intrathecal Drug Delivery

Smaller doses

A pain pump allows targeted drug delivery to the spinal cord while bypassing the barriers encountered by oral medications (e.g. gastrointestinal track, blood stream, and blood-brain barrier).

Fewer side effects

Targeted Drug Delivery gives you pain relief with a fraction of the amount of medicine resulting in fewer side effects compared to oral medications

Improved pain relief

Targeted drug delivery has shown to be more effective in managing pain than conventional medical management with less medicine.

Increased survival rate

Cancer pain can cause people to stop treatment which lowers survival rates. to maintain treatments and potentially improve survival rates.

Who is a good candidate for a pain/spasticity pump?

Pain/Spasticity Pump Options

There are currently two pump manufacturers, Medtronic and Flowonix. While both pumps are programmable and each has its own patient-controlled bolus device, the mechanics of each pump differ. There are some specific advantages to each of the pumps, please ask your provider for more details.

Pain/Spasticity Pumps are programmed using a tablet and Bluetooth connection. In most cases your doctor will set a continuous rate, equivalent to a long-acting (or sustained-release) pain pill, and a bolus dose, equivalent to your breakthrough (or short-acting) pain pill. You will be able to give yourself extra doses as needed using a PTM (patient therapy manager) or PTC (patient therapy controller) depicted above.

Process for getting an intrathecal pain or Spasticity pump

After you and your provider determine you are a candidate for TDD, you will first complete a Behavioral Health Evaluation. The goal of this assessment is to confirm you understand the therapy and that your expectations for the therapy is consistent with your healthcare provider’s expectations. As every patient and every patient’s pain is different, your CPSC providers will custom order your medications for your pump. If you pain relief is not adequate or side effects are intolerable, a new combination and/or concentrations of medications may be ordered. To achieve maximum pain relief and minimal side effects, we encourage you to communicate with your providers and our staff.

Before Surgery

The BHE & Trial

Candidates for pain/spasticity pumps are first required by insurance companies to undergo a Behavior Health Evaluation (BHE) to assess whether any unstable psychological conditions exist. If cleared by the BHE provider a trial to assess the effectiveness of the therapy. There are two different types of trials: a Single-Shot Injection or a Continuous Intrathecal Infusion. Following a successful trial, in which your pain is reduced by at least 50%, you will be scheduled for a Pre-Operative Visit.

During Surgery

The Pump Implant

The pump is surgically implanted under the skin and just below the fat tissue. The most common location for the pump is the abdomen, but other locations can be considered (e.g., back, buttock, etc.). One end of the catheter is connected to the pump and the other is positioned in the fluid-filled space surrounding your spinal cord. Finally, the pump is either filled in the operating room with medication infusing immediately, or the pump will be filled at your post-operative visit.

Follow up

Post Surgery

You may experience pain relief within a few hours after surgery, or you may require an adjustment to your dose when your provider feels it is appropriate. You will return to the clinic approximately 7 days after your implant for a Post-Surgical Evaluation. We will assess your incisions and discuss any changes to your dose or medications that might be necessary.

Scroll to Top