Pain and misery are the hallmarks of back pain. From middle-aged adults to the elderly, lower back pain affects millions of people worldwide. Thankfully, the advancements in medical technology offer a ray of hope to those suffering from this condition. Pain pumps are a new form of pain management technology which help reduce or even eliminate back pain.

What is a Pain Pump?

A pain pump is a medical device – a small, battery-operated pump – that carries powerful medications directly to the source of the pain, bypassing the digestive system and avoiding unnecessary side-effects. The pump is surgically implanted, and can be programmed to deliver medication at pre-determined intervals or as per the user’s needs.

Types of Pain Pumps

Pain pumps can be divided into two categories – intrathecal and epidural. Intrathecal pumps measure roughly 3 inches, and contain a reservoir filled with drugs such as morphine and baclofen. The drugs are administered directly into the spinal fluid, providing almost instant relief from pain. Epidural pumps, on the other hand, measure about 5 inches and are surgically inserted into soft tissue near the spine. These pumps deliver medication to the epidural space surrounding the spine, providing relief from pain.

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Benefits of Pain Pumps

Pain pumps can provide tremendous relief to those suffering from chronic back pain. Patients enjoy better mobility and an improved quality of life. Pain pumps help reduce the reliance on oral medications, which have strong side-effects and can be habit forming. They allow for a slow, steady release of medication, reducing the chances of an overdose and eliminating any chances of addiction.

Pain Pump Procedure

The doctor performs a minimally invasive surgical procedure to place the pump, or implant it directly under the skin between the patient’s shoulder blade. The pump is programmed to deliver the medications in the way that best suits the patient’s needs. The initial procedure may take 1-2 times to complete. Most patients report a dramatic reduction in pain within the first two days after the procedure.

Risks of Pain Pump Surgery

Although generally safe, any invasive surgery carries certain risks. These include damage to nearby organs, pain at the insertion site and the potential for infection. Patients may also suffer from an opioid-induced hormone imbalance, leading to abdominal weight gain and fatigue.

People Also Ask

1. What happens if the pain pump stops working?

If the pain pump stops working properly, the patient may either experience a gradual reduction in pain relief or no pain relief at all. In such cases, the patient may need to get a new pain pump or switch to an alternative method of pain management.

2. How much does a pain pump cost?

The cost of a pain pump depends on the type of pump and the medications required. Generally, a single implantable pain pump can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.

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3. How long does a pain pump last?

Most pain pumps last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Some pumps, however, may last up to 8 years or more.

4. Does insurance cover pain pump surgery?

Most health insurance companies may cover the cost of the surgery, if deemed medically necessary. Some insurance companies may however require a prior authorization before they cover the cost of the surgery.

5. What type of pain does a pain pump relieve?

Pain pumps are primarily used to treat chronic pain, such as severe lower back pain. They can also be used to relieve pain from nerve damage, arthritis and other chronic conditions.


Pain pumps offer a safe and effective way to reduce pain from chronic conditions such as lower back pain. This minimally invasive treatment provides relief from pain without the potential for addiction or any unpleasant side-effects. However, pain pumps are not for everyone, and a careful consideration of the risks versus rewards is necessary before undergoing the procedure.