An intrathecal pump, also known as a “pain pump,” is a method of giving medication directly to your spinal cord.

This intrathecal drug delivery system uses a small pump, placed under the skin of your abdomen, that delivers medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord – much like an epidural that women may have during childbirth. Because the medication is delivered directly to the spinal cord, your symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed with oral medication. This results in fewer side effects associated with oral medication, such as sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting, and constipation.


The intrathecal pump is programmed to slowly release medication over a period of time.

It may also be programmed to release different amounts of medication at different times of the day. The intrathecal pump stores your prescription information into its memory. Your doctor can then review this information with the programmer. When the pump is empty, your doctor can easily refill it by inserting a needle through your skin and into the port at the top of the reservoir.

The Benefits Of An Intrathecal Pump Include:

It reduces the need for oral medications.

It reduces the side effects associated with oral medications.

Outpatient procedure, with little recovery time needed.

The pump can be removed at any time.

intrathecal pump

Although uncommon, risks may include:

itching and bleeding

difficulty urinating

headaches or nausea

weakness or numbness

The following items may make you a candidate for an intrathecal pump:

Conservative therapies have failed

You would not benefit from additional surgery

You are dependent on pain medication

You do not have psychological problems

You have no medical conditions keeping you from undergoing procedure

You are not allergic to any of the drugs used in the pump

You have had positive response with a trial dose of medication

If you meet this criteria and would like to begin a trial