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Shoulder Pain Pumps Destroy Shoulder Cartilage

A pain pump is a small catheter which is usually inserted into a shoulder following surgery. The pump is attached to the shoulder and connected to a container that is filled with a long-lasting local anesthetic. The purpose of the pump is to gradually and continuously release anesthetic for up to five days or until the patient removes the pump.

Pain pumps are typically used on individuals who have undergone arthroscopic shoulder procedures, as well as rotator cuff surgery or shoulder decompression surgery. Doctors use the pump to reduce patient pain immediately after a surgery, thereby avoiding the use of painkillers or narcotics.

Since 1998, manufacturers of the pain pump have been applying to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to change the pump’s packaging to include reference to the intra-articular placement in the shoulder joint. The FDA continues to deny the applications, meaning the intra-articular use of the pain pump catheters is not FDA approved. Manufacturers of pain pumps include Stryker Corp., I-Flow Corp., Smith & Nephew, Inc., DePuy, Inc., DJO, Inc., Breg, Inc. and AstraZeneca PLC.

Pain Pump Use Leads to Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chrondrolysis

Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chrondrolysis (PAGCL) is a painful and permanent condition that arises when the cartilage separating and protecting the shoulder’s ball and socket deteriorates partially or completely. The breakdown in cartilage causes bone to meet bone, leading to inhibited movement, excruciating pain, and a reduction in functionality.  In some instances, surgery is required to completely replace the shoulder joint. Regardless of the treatment, those who suffer from PAGCL potentially face a lifetime of pain and medical procedures. Common symptoms of PAGCL include:

  • Clicking, popping or grinding of the shoulder
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder
  • Constant shoulder pain
  • Shoulder weakness

Intra-articular Placement of Pain Pumps Causing PAGCL

Many orthopedic surgeons believe that one of the most common causes of PAGCL is the intra-articular placement of the pain pump catheter in the shoulder where an arthroscopic surgery has been completed. Recent studies suggest that the insertion of the pain pump catheters releases a level of anesthetic concentrated in one place which is toxic to cartilage. A 2006 study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and a October 2007 study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine each suggest a strong link between intra-articular use of pain pumps in the shoulder and individuals developing PAGCL.

If you or a loved one had a pain pump implanted after surgery, and have experienced any of the symptoms discussed above, you may be suffering from PAGCL. It is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced New York personal injury attorney to determine your options and to preserve your rights. Contact the law offices of Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free evaluation of your case.