Intrathecal Pump Therapy as a Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Intrathecal Pump Therapy as a Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that can affect any limb in the body after an injury. It is a persistent pain that patients have trouble managing with traditional pain medications. Intrathecal pumps are able to deliver medications to the source of your pain constantly and at a safer low dose.


What is Intrathecal Pump Therapy?


Intrathecal pumps deliver small doses of medication directly to the spinal fluid. It consists of a small battery-powered, programmable pump that is implanted under the skin in the abdomen and connected to a small catheter that is connected to the spine. It can deliver drugs continuously or in one dose. There is no evidence showing whether it is more clinically effective to use bolus or continuous dosing.

Sophisticated drug dose plans can be programmed into the device, leading to less time in doctor’s offices for patients. Implanted pumps need to be refilled every 1 to 3 months. Your pain can also be controlled with a smaller dose of medication through the pump, so less pain medication is needed orally.


What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that mostly affects one limb (arm, leg, hand, or foot), usually after an injury. Complex regional pain syndrome is thought to be caused by damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems. The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system involves all of the nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. CRPS is characterized by longer than normal or excessive pain, changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the injured area. There are two kinds of complex regional pain syndrome: CRPS-I and CRPS-II. Patients who have not been diagnosed with an injury to their nerves fall into the CRPS-I category. When a patient has a diagnosed nerve injury they fall into the CRPS-II category. The treatment is generally the same for both forms of complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS symptoms can vary, and some cases are mild enough they go away on their own.  In the most severe cases, patients may never recover and have a long-term disability. In almost 90% of CPRS cases, the cause is from a previous injury. Complex regional pain syndrome is an abnormal body response to an injury and can magnify the pain. CPRS can affect the immune system of patients with this disorder, increasing the number of inflammatory properties in the blood and injured area. Some studies suggest this disorder is influenced by genetics. In very rare cases, CPRS can develop in patients without an injury.


How Can Intrathecal Pump Therapy Treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Chronic intrathecal baclofen administered through an intrathecal pump has been proven to reduce the pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome in patients who have not responded to traditional treatment methods or nerve blocks. They were effective at relieving patients pain and improving their quality of life. It is a better method of controlling complex regional pain syndrome than intrathecal delivery of morphine.