The delivery of medicine directly to the spine can create profound pain control with fewer side effects than oral or intravenous medications. A device called an intrathecal pump can be implanted under the skin to deliver medication continuously. The device is usually refilled every month to six months. This approach is very effective in cancer pain treatment, and may be helpful for some selected chronic pain situations
Intrathecal therapy can also treat spasticity in the lower and upper extremities which can be associated with spinal cord injury or problems such as multiple sclerosis.
Epidural therapy uses an external drug delivery device that is refilled through a pharmacy. It can be very effective for shorter term problems or where intrathecal delivery is not desired or appropriate. Epidural therapy is commonly used after major surgeries at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.
For more information about intrathecal and epidural therapy, call the Interventional Pain Clinic, in Seattle, at 206-223-7582.