Shoulder Pain Pump Lawsuit Filed In Nevada

A Las Vegas patient just filed a lawsuit over a potentially defective pain pump, said the Las Vegas Business Press. The case was filed by Dorothy Vialpando and her husband, Gabriel, and alleges that Mrs. Vialpando’s shoulder cartilage was injured after 2006 implantation of a <"">Stryker Pain Pump device, said the LV Business Press. Other similar suits are in progress nationwide against Stryker.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court and names both the international company Stryker and Stryker Sales Corp. and claims strict product liability, reported the LV Business Press. The lawsuit alleges that sales representatives from Stryker promoted the Pain Pump for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The lawsuit also alleges that implantation of the device left Mrs. Vialpando with “permanent injuries and a lack of mobility,” said the LV Business Press. “Stryker knew or should have known that its pain pumps, when used with aesthetic medications in the joint space, could be toxic to shoulder cartilage,” the court filing states.

Pain pumps, such as the Stryker Pain Pump, are commonly known as intra-articular pain pumps and are used in shoulder surgeries, generally in conjunction with arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Shoulder arthroscopy is a rapidly expanding field because it offers a less invasive, less painful option. In arthroscopy, two very small incisions are made, one for instruments and one for a miniature surgical camera to allow the surgeon’s viewing of the area without a large surgical site. To manage post-surgical pain and extend the deployment of numbing agents, the use of temporary intra-articular shoulder pain pumps was introduced into these types of surgeries.

The procedure involves placing a flexible intra-articular shoulder pain pump catheter into the shoulder joint with the pump remaining in the joint for several days to deliver controlled doses of pain medication. This course of treatment became popular because it reduced recovery time without the need for narcotics.

But a few days of relief can result in a debilitating and lifelong condition that causes severe—and often, permanent—pain and mobility loss and the need for constant medication. In some patients, complete loss of the use of the shoulder occurs. The condition, called Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL) is deterioration of cartilage, in which overwhelming damage to the shoulder occurs. Without cartilage, there is no bone-to-bone cushion, causing bones to grind together and resulting in intense pain and, in some cases, chronic arthritis.

Symptoms of PAGCL include pain at the shoulder, when in motion or at rest; increased shoulder stiffness; popping or grinding when the shoulder is in motion; decrease in range of motion; and a loss of strength in the joint. PAGCL is usually diagnosed with an X-ray showing the narrowing of the shoulder joint space. No consistently successful PAGCL treatment has emerged and the damage from PAGCL is believed to be irreversible. Unfortunately, pain medications seem to worsen the symptoms of PAGCL and offer no long-term value concerning treatment or cure. PAGCL tends to develop two to twelve months following surgery.

Treatment for this condition is further surgery to replace the destroyed joint; however, many patients never regain full use of their shoulder joint, despite the corrective surgery. Unfortunately, arthroscopic surgery is not an option. The damage that occurs with PAGCL requires the more painful and invasive shoulder joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), which is a more intense surgery option. Arthroplasty involves replacing the joint with plastic and metal components. Surgery lasts two and three hours and patients usually remain in the hospital for three nights. Physical therapy is almost always required following this type of procedure. Despite surgery, many patients never fully regain use of their joint and some patients report increased pain.

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