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 medications were able to improve their daily activities with a drug pump. (Results may vary.)1-4

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

You will need to return to your doctor’s office periodically for checkups and to have your pump refilled. The medication in your pump needs to typically be refilled every 6 to 12 weeks, depending on your dosage and the size of your pump.

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.

Caution With 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.

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.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.