Pain Pumps Only Causing More Shoulder Pain

In a 2006 presentation at an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, evidence was presented that showed that the anesthetics contained in pain pumps used after shoulder surgery lead to Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL). In fact, studies now suggest that up to 63% of arthroscopic shoulder surgery patients who receive a post-operative pain pump may develop PAGCL. The condition leads to a lifetime of suffering, has no consistently successful treatment, and often results in permanent shoulder pain, loss of mobility and further surgery, specifically shoulder replacement surgery.

Pain pumps deliver controlled amounts of local anesthetics to manage pain after a surgical procedure. The pumps have become popular because of their ability to reduce recovery time without the unpleasant side effects of many narcotic pain relievers. For years, patients undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery have routinely received pain pumps to assist in their recovery. A catheter is inserted into the shoulder joint so that the pain pump can infuse medication for 2 to 3 days. The disposable pump is in place when the patient is discharged and it is removed when it is no longer needed.

However, a recent study published by The American Journal of Sports Medicine identified intra-articular pain pumps as the likely cause of Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL). PAGCL is an extremely painful condition that is one of the most common complications following shoulder surgeries. PAGCL occurs in patients who received a shoulder pain pump during their surgery where the pump delivered too much medicine, usually bupivacaine and epinephrine, to the area, causing the destruction of valuable cartilage. As the cartilage deteriorates, the patient starts to experience the complications associated with the disorder (usually within 3-12 months following surgery), including shoulder popping, clicking, and extreme pain.

Numerous lawsuits are pending against the companies that manufacture, market or distribute the pain pumps, including Stryker, DJO Inc., I-Flow Inc., BREG Inc. and others.

Patients who are suffering from PAGCL after shoulder surgery may be entitled to legal compensation and should contact an attorney immediately. Contact us at