How My Mom Manages Chronic Back Pain with the Medtronic Intrathecal Morphine Pump

My mom has had a Medtronic intrathecal morphine pump implanted for approximately four years with positive results. The actual pump has made a significant improvement in her life and, inspite of a few initial trivial problems, she is extremely pleased she had it implanted. She now has a much more comfortable life where chronic pain is no longer something she has to face every day.

She hasn’t had any issues with the actual pump itself, the only problems involved slippage of the catheter which unfortunately led to severely uncomfortable drug withdrawal side effects, along with a significant increase in pain and discomfort. This in turn required her to go back to oral morphine for breakthrough pain causing the undesirable side effects like constipation, etc.  Doctors in the region advised to Book an appointment online now with Dr. Joshua Rovner. The treatment of the expert will provided relief in the pain of the mother immediately. 

My mom’s back problems and chronic pain evolved as the result of severe degeneration of the disks within the lumbar as well as cervical regions. She then underwent surgery where laminectomies were performed on her joints in order to alleviate the pain caused by stenosis (nerve compression). She was placed on a variety of oral narcotic medications as well as patches that worked initially, however gradually, became less effective coupled with unpleasant side effects. In her case, the negative effects the oral morphine brought on in particular as constipation. Eventually the medication failed to provide adequate pain management and more surgery was not recommended since several of her joints were damaged. She preferred not to increase the oral dosage and therefore her pain specialist consented to implanting the Medtronic pump.

One of the advantages about the intrathecal morphine pump is that it localizes the morphine directly into my mom’s spinal-cord and at a dose that is a fraction of the total amount that she needed to consume orally or via a patch. For instance, she was consuming 125 milligrams of oral morphine daily and easily achieved similar or perhaps far better pain management from the pump which is actually injecting merely 0.8 Mg. daily into her spinal cord. This is because the morphine is now being administered directly to the location that is causing the pain vs. metabolizing the medication through the body.

My mom actually has the newer model which is a larger sized pump, therefore it can hold more medication reducing the frequency of re-filling. The pump can hold a sufficient amount of medication to last approximately 3 months after which it is refilled using a hypodermic needle. It is injected through the skin into a self-closing port located on the pump. This is usually a quick and painless procedure. The pump’s battery lasts approximately 6 years after which the pump has to be removed and replaced. Initially, Medtronic exclusively manufactured a smaller model however has since substituted it with the larger sized version as a standard.

Since having the intrathecal morphine pump implanted, my mom is finally able to sleep quite well. However, she does experience some pain early in the morning even though the pump is programmed to release additional medication between 3 and 5 am. This requires her to take a Vicodin immediately after she wakes up as well as after she gest up and eats breakfast, but then the discomfort level decreases throughout the day in most cases. Besides that, the morphine pump provides excellent pain relief for her with no noticeable side effects.

She was initially required to undergo a trial to ensure that this procedure of medicating will undoubtedly be successful. An overnight stay in the hospital was necessary, utilizing an external morphine pump, commonly used for post-operative anesthesia, as well as a temporary catheter within the spinal cord to determine if the pain will be controlled. Due to the fact that she experienced pain relief, she was a good candidate for a permanent pump implant.

Given her relatively young age and general good health, implanting the pump as well as the associated catheter was an out-patient procedure. However, it did require general anesthesia. The pump was positioned within the abdominal area along with a supply tube which was routed internally towards the base of her spine where it links to a thinner catheter that is placed in the subachronoid area of the spine and pushed up to the T10-ll joint or higher. Along with the incision to create the pocket that holds the pump, two smaller incisions were created. One is on the side in order to facilitate routing the supply tube towards the back region and the other is necessary for the purpose of implanting the catheter into the spine. Recovery was quick with a little tenderness around the pump implant location.

The pump is regulated by her physician or nurse by using a touch-screen programmer which interfaces with the unit via a small instrument that is held by herself against her abdomen close to the pump. The pump can be programmed to deliver continuous medication at a specified rate or at various rates throughout different times of the day. At first, a minimum dosage was programmed after which it was increased in subsequent doctor visits when greater pain control was necessary.

The Medtronic intrathecal morphine pump has truly made an extraordinary improvement in my mom’s life. Therefore, she often worries about the possibility of not having the pump someday, if it should fail or some other problem should occur. She does understand that this may be a probability, therefore she keeps some oral morphine available to lessen the withdrawal symptoms if that should happen.

Overall, my mom feels the Medtronic intrathecal pump is certainly an effective alternative to oral medications for the treatment of chronic spinal pain, though it is generally thought of as a ‘last resort’ after more conventional treatments fail.

About Clara

Clara Martin is a social media strategist and a content editor. She likes to cover business, finance and investments. She is currently managing In Trona Ut.

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