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Shoulder Pain Pump (Intra-Articular Pain Pump)

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A shoulder pain pump is a medical device that is used after an individual has undergone a medical procedure called shoulder arthroscopy. This surgical procedure is used to view the joint of the shoulder using a miniature camera and lighting equipment. The procedure is considered minimally invasive and individuals that have undergone this procedure heal faster and con return to normal activities more quickly than if other surgical techniques had been used. In most cases, the pain associated with the surgery can be managed with oral medications, but in some cases, oral medications are not enough to handle the pain the individual feels. These individuals may opt to have a shoulder pain pump, also known as an intra-articular pain pump, installed to manage the pain they feel after the surgery.

The shoulder pain pump consists of a small plastic tube that is attached to a mechanical pump. The plastic tube is inserted into the shoulder at the end of the surgical procedure and positioned to deliver the pain medication directly into the shoulder joint. The pump regulates the amount of pain medication that is delivered into the shoulder joint and ensures that the correct dosage is delivered at the correct time. The shoulder pain pump is typically used for pain management for two to three days after the surgery has been performed. After those few days, the shoulder pain pump is removed, the wound is repaired, and the shoulder is allowed to continue healing naturally. If the individual still experiences any discomfort in their shoulder, they will use oral medications to control the discomfort.

The use of a shoulder pain pump after undergoing shoulder arthroscopy has recently been linked to the development of a serious, debilitating condition called postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis. Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage found between the socket of the shoulder and the ball of the arm bone in the shoulder joint. The decrease of cartilage in this area causes extreme pain and makes using the shoulder and the arm difficult. In severe cases of the condition, the individual may lose the use of their arm. There is no cure for the disorder and the cartilage that is lost cannot be replaced. In the early stages of postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis, the pain may be managed with oral pain and anti-inflammatory medications. As the condition becomes worse, the affected individual’s only treatment option is the surgical replacement of the shoulder joint with parts made of metal and plastic.

The association between the use of a shoulder pain pump and the development of postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis was detailed in a study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine. All of the individuals that have been diagnosed with the condition to date have used a shoulder pain pump following shoulder arthroscopy for pain management. Some experts believe that the high doses of pain medication delivered into the shoulder joint by the shoulder pain pump are causing the cartilage deterioration signature to postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis. Until more is known about the condition and its causes, healthcare professionals are advised to refrain from using a shoulder pain pump for pain management after shoulder surgery.

Which Shoulder Pain Pumps are Affected?

The devices involved include those manufactured by Stryker Co., DJO Inc., I-Flow Co., BREG Inc. and several others. Most commonly used are:

  • Stryker®
  • Stryker® PainPump 1®
  • Stryker® PainPump 2®
  • PainPump® Blockaid®
  • I-Flow®
  • On-Q® Painbuster®
  • Donjoy®
  • Donjoy® Pain Control Device
  • Accufuser® Plus Pain Pump

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