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Shoulder Pain Pumps

A pain pump is a small catheter, which is inserted into a shoulder that has undergone surgery. The pump is connected to a container that is filled with a long-lasting local anesthetic. It also is attached to the shoulder. The pump gradually and continuously releases the anesthetic for up to five days or until the patient removes the pump.

Doctors typically use pain pumps 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, thus avoiding use of painkillers or narcotics.

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, since 1998. The FDA continues to deny the applications, meaning the intra-articular use of the pain pump catheters is not FDA approved.

Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis

Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (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. This breakdown causes bone to meet bone, leading to excruciating pain, inhibited movement, and a reduction in functionality. In some instances, the patient requires surgery to completely replace the shoulder joint. Regardless of the treatment, those who suffer from PAGCL must potentially face a lifetime of pain and medical procedures. Common symptoms of PAGCL include:

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

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. Many recent studies suggest that the insertion of the pain pump catheters released a level of anesthetic concentrated in one place, which was toxic to cartilage. A 2006 study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and an 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 experienced legal counsel to determine your options and to preserve your rights. Contact Anderson Law Offices, LLC for a free evaluation of your case.

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