Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three to six months. It is associated with restricted mobility, opioid dependence, anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life. Various sources estimate from 11% to 40% of U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain. The CDC reported 20.4%, or 50 million adults, have the condition. The CDC arrived at its estimate after analyzing National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data. We’ve written about technology developed to relieve chronic pain without drugs including a pulse device, virtual reality, and more. In light of the ongoing opioid epidemic, solutions that can lessen the patient’s need for narcotic pain medication are a top priority.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Medtronic’s myPTM Personal Therapy Manager app for use in treating chronic pain with the company’s SynchroMedII Intrathecal Drug Delivery System, more commonly known as the Medtronic pain pump. The implantable pain pump delivers pain medication to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, where it does the most good for specific conditions. Patients who use the pain pump get long-term relief with lower opioid doses and experience fewer side effects than with oral opioids. Some are even able to gradually stop using opioids. Rather than rely on a constant flow of pain medication, the myPTM allows patients to self-deliver doctor-limited drug doses when they need them, which is often unpredictable. The myPTM app runs on a customized Samsung Galaxy J3 smartphone. The app allows healthcare workers to set daily doses and allow self-dosing. Providers also can access therapy details with the app. If a patient tries to demand more drugs than prescribe, it won’t work deliver them and the device sends alerts to healthcare providers. According to Medtronic, myPTM is successful because it allows patients a degree of independence in pain medication delivery and because of the lower required doses and less frequent unpleasant side effects with the pain pump compared to pills.
We’ve written previously about Medtronic’s closed-loop artificial pancreas systems for people with diabetics. The company’s reputation and acceptance in the medical community should speed adoption as soon as feasible by appropriate healthcare systems.