Daniela Castagnino

I’ve had my baclofen pump for over 10 years now. I can honestly say getting it implanted was a game changer.

My muscle spasms were bad before, despite the fact that I was maxed out on the oral medication. That meant that I was taking the maximum recommended amount of baclofen tablets four times a day, sometimes supplemented by another muscle relaxer. Not only was it annoying and inconvenient to have to ask for assistance to take out and ingest the pills, but taking that much medication also brings about several unintended side effects: dry mouth, constipation, liver issues, etc.

The procedure had been recommended to me several times by my Physiatrist, but I had been reluctant at first. The thought of voluntarily submitting myself to more surgery after all I’ve been through after my car accident was not appealing. However, my spasms were really starting to get in the way: simple, everyday tasks like putting on a jacket became an ordeal, triggering sudden and violent muscle spasms.  Even sneezing was troublesome as sometimes the force of the muscle spasms it would set off was almost enough to knock me out of my chair.

The situation got bad enough that I finally agreed to make the appointment for the trial run. This is when a doctor performs a spinal tap and injects the baclofen directly into the spinal cord to simulate what the pump would do. Since I had a positive result I decided to go ahead with the procedure. This was not without its pitfalls. Although the original surgery went smoothly and after a 48-hour stay at a rehab facility to adjust the medication levels I was home and enjoying the benefits of receiving the baclofen directly into my spinal fluid rather than having to  digest and process it, soon after it was discovered that the wound site had gotten infected and the pump would need to be removed.

I had to complete the course of antibiotics and fully recover from the initial surgery before doctors could attempt to implant again. As soon as the pump was removed I noticed the difference right away. The disparity between receiving the medication through the pump and going back to taking the pills was stark. As soon as I was fully healed and could get the procedure scheduled, I went back to try again. This time: success! No infections!

After a period of healing and having to return to the doctor’s office regularly to get the medication adjusted to just the right levels, everything normalized. My spasms, though still present, became much more manageable and I’m no longer afraid a sudden movement will hurl me out of my chair. I go back to see my Physiatrist about every 3 ½ months to refill the medication in the pump which is done by inserting a needle directly into it; I barely even feel it. The only things I need to worry about now is making sure I get that refill before the medication runs out and making sure that the pump the battery gets replaced every 6-7 years, depending on usage.

Without a doubt, for me the benefits of the baclofen pump outweigh any inconveniences!

Daniela Castagnino
Information Specialist
United Spinal Resource Center