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Causes of Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL)

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Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis is a relatively new disorder, so not much is known about the causes of the condition. The condition is considered a serious, life-altering disorder because of the amount of pain and debilitation that is caused to the individual. Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis is characterized by the gradual loss of cartilage in the joint of the shoulder. This causes the bone of the arm and the socket of the shoulder to rub together, causing grinding, pain, and the reduction of movement. The pain resulting from the condition can be severe and the individual may eventually lose the use of the affected arm. The initial symptoms of the condition generally appear within three to five months after the individual has undergone a certain surgical procedure on the joint of the shoulder.

There are two factors that seem to be consistent in all cases of the development of postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis. All of the individuals that have been diagnosed with the condition have undergone a surgical procedure called shoulder arthroscopy and all of the individuals required the use of a disposable pain pump to dispense pain medication into the shoulder following the surgery. Shoulder arthroscopy is commonly used to diagnose and surgically treat issues, such as damage and inflammation, which may occur in the joint of the shoulder. The procedure is considered minimally invasive and the individuals who undergo the procedure regain the use of their arm and shoulder much more quickly than with other surgical techniques. The technique was made popular by its successful use on a number of athletes, which allowed them to return to their games much faster than previously used surgical techniques.

Although many individuals that undergo shoulder arthroscopy can use oral medications to control the pain from the surgery, some individuals require the use of a disposable pain pump that pumps pain medication directly into the joint of the shoulder for pain control. The pain pump is typically used for two or three days after the surgery, after which it is removed and the shoulder is allowed to heal naturally. There are three medications that are generally chosen for use with the pain pump. These medications are Xylocaine (Lidocaine), Marcaine (Bupivacaine), or Epinephrine. Some experts believe that the high doses of pain medication that the pain pump delivers directly into the shoulder joint may be a contributing factor to the development of postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis.

Research continues into the exact cause of postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis, but because of the association between the use of the shoulder pain pump and the development of the condition, physicians have been advised to stop using the device until more can be learned about the condition. The cartilage loss that occurs during the course of the condition is irreversible and the cartilage cannot be replaced. Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis is a progressive disorder with no known cure and no effective treatment has been discovered for the condition. Any individual of any age can develop the condition and the only treatment option for those severely affected is shoulder replacement surgery.

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