Shoulder Pain Pump

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Levin, Papantonio is currently investigating cases involving intra-articular pain pump catheters. These devices are temporarily implanted in the shoulder during surgery and have been linked to a serious injury know as Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL). This is an extremely painful condition involving the deterioration of cartilage in the shoulder joint.


For years, surgeons have favored the intra-articular pain pump for pain management. These flexible plastic catheters deliver pain medication directly to the joint, and can extend the effectiveness of other shoulder numbing agents for up to 48 hours.

But this pain relief comes at a terrible price. A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that these pumps were associated with PAGCL. This association was greatest when the intra-articular pain pumps were used to deliver a combination of the painkillers bupivacaine and epinephrine directly into the shoulder joint space. In spite of this knowledge, the manufacturers of these pumps have persisted in recommending that physicians deploy the pumps to inject medicine directly into the joint space.