Intra-articular pain pumps could lead to permanent joint damage

October 19, 2007

Pain meds injected into joint space may cause permanent damage.

Pumps that deliver pain medication directly into the joint space can cause permanent and debilitating damage, according to an article published in the October issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The devices are manufactured by several companies, including Stryker Corp. and I-Flow Inc., and are normally used after surgery to reduce pain in the shoulder joint space. According to Charles Beck, M.D., a well-known orthopedic surgeon, the devices have been used in thousands of patients and hundreds appear to be at risk for the complication, which is called postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis (PAGCL). The condition results in severe pain, debilitating stiffness, and eventual joint replacement surgery for those affected. The article reported that PAGCL is permanent and can lead to extreme pain and lifelong suffering in 63% of patients who use the pumps.

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