Shoulder Pain Pumps Destroy Shoulder Joints | DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Posted by Catherine Bertram

Recognized medical studies show that pain pumps that inject pain medicine right into shoulder joints after surgical procedures are a very likely cause of severe cartilage damage.  The FDA, in November 2009 and again in February 2010 issued a warning about this device.  At the heart of the shoulder pain pump litigation is the fact that continuous infusion pumps were not approved by the FDA for this use.   The pain medication essentially eats away the cartilage in the shoulder joint which is critical to allowing the shoulder to move smoothly without pain and grinding.   The research shows that this permanent injury occurs when an intra-articular pain pump catheter is inserted into the shoulder joint by the surgeon in an effort to reduce the patient’s pain, usually after a shoulder surgery.  The catheter then pumps pain medication right into that key joint for several days.    The medical studies show the damage can be inflicted in 2-3 days.  This is a permanent injury and is extremely painful and limiting for the patient. Symptoms include increased pain and stiffness, a clicking or popping or grinding in the shoulder and less motion and loss of strength.  The condition is known as Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chrondrolysis (PAGCL).If you or a family member has this condition and a pain pump was used you may want to consider having the records reviewed and the matter investigated. 

About the author:

Catherine Bertram is board certified in civil trials and was recently nominated as a 2010 Super Lawyer for Washington, D.C.  Ms. Bertram has 20 years of trial experience and is unique in that she was formerly the Director of Risk Management for Georgetown University Hospital.  Ms. Bertram is a member of the bar for the U.S. Supreme Court as well as various federal courts and state level courts. She is a partner with the firm and lectures regularly to lawyers and health care providers, nationally and locally, regarding patient safety, medical negligence and other related issues. She has also recently published a chapter in a surgical textbook.   She can be reached by email at or by phone 202-822-1875 in her office in Washington, D.C.