Cancer Pain Your Health

Living With the Therapy

Living With a Drug Pump

After the initial healing period (6 to 8 weeks), you should find that the drug pump becomes a routine part of your day. In fact, clinical studies show that many people who did not get chronic pain relief from oral medication were able to improve their daily activities with a drug pump. (Results may vary)1-4

The following guidelines will help you maximise the benefit from your drug pump: 

  • Carry your patient ID and emergency card with you at all times
  • Always keep your follow-up and refill appointments
  • Tell your doctor if you don't feel well, or are having problems with the pump
  • Immediately notify your doctor if you hear a pump alarm
  • Learn the programmable pump name, model number and the name of the medication used in the pump
  • Make sure your family and friends know about the pump, so they can help in an emergency

Seeing the Pump

Your pump is placed near the surface of your skin for refill access. You may be able to see the pump under your skin when it is not covered with clothes, or if you are wearing fitted clothes. Depending on your size and shape, where the pump is implanted, and the size of your pump, the pump may not show at all.

Doctor Visits

How often you need to visit your doctor for pump refills will depend on your daily dose of drug, keep in mind that the drug cannot remain in your pump for longer than 6 months. Before it ends, it needs to be replaced so you will need a refill at least once every 6 months. 

Refilling and Adjusting the Pump

The doctor fills the pump with pain medication using a needle. You and your doctor must work together to find the dose of medication that is most comfortable for you.

Finding the best pain medication dose for you may take some time. If your pump is programmable, you can also have different doses programmed to adjust to different activities or times of the day.

Exercise and Daily Activities

Some movements may stretch or put strain on the catheter or on the stitches that hold your pump in place. Your doctor may give you guidelines for activities to avoid.

Although the catheter is made of flexible and durable materials, it is still subject to wear. Excessive or repetitive bending, twisting, bouncing, or stretching can move or stretch the catheter. This damage may require surgery to repair.


Tell your doctor if you plan to travel, if necessary, he or she will adjust your pump refills to prevent serious injury or death from a travel-related change in your treatment. 

People who live or travel at high altitudes are often exposed to tower air pressures for long period of time. This continued exposure can increase the flow rate of the pump. If your doctor determines an increase in flow rate might pose a significant risk to you, he or she can adjust your infusion prescription accordingly. 

Medical and Dental Procedures

Tell your doctors and your dentist about your drug pump before you have any medical or dental procedures. Certain procedures could affect your safety or the performance of the pump. 

Electromagnetic Compatibility

Electromagnetic interference from sources such as diagnostic ultrasound, mobile phones and microwave ovens is unlikely to affect your baclofen pump. However, there are exceptions. For more information, refer to the patient manuel or consult your doctor. 

Realistic Expectations

Realistic expectations are key to satisfaction with any pain treatment. It is important to remember that your pump will not eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but may help you to better manage your pain.

Removing the Pump

If you no longer need the pump or change your mind about the pain treatment, your doctor can turn it off or remove the system completely.



Onofrio BM, Yaksh TL. Long-Term Pain Relief Produced by Intrathecal Infusion in 53 Patients. J Neurosurg 1990; 72: 200-209.


Winkelmuller M, Winkelmuller W. Long-Term Effects of Continuous Intrathecal Opioid Treatment in Chronic Pain of Nonmalignant Etiology. J Neurosurg 1996; 85: 458-467.


Paice JA, Penn RD, Shott S. Intraspinal Morphine for Chronic Pain: A Retrospective, Multicenter Study. J Pain Symptom Manage 1996; 11(2): 71-80.


Lamer TJ. Treatment of Cancer-Related Pain: When Orally Administered Medications Fail. Mayo Clinic Proc 1994; 69:473-480.

This website is intended to be educational and is not to be used as a diagnostic tool. It is not intended to replace the information provided to you by your healthcare providers and does not constitute medical advice. The information may not be directly applicable for your individual clinical circumstance. Please talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.