Jordana had her first shoulder pain pump back in 2003, after an accident at work dislocated her shoulder. “I had some nerve damage after the surgery and I blamed my surgeon, but now I wonder if it could have been from the pain pump,” she says.
“I recently saw another orthopedic surgeon, mainly to get a second opinion. He ordered x-rays and an MRI and the results showed accelerated bone degeneration in my shoulder and up the side of my neck. I was shocked when he said this could be caused by the shoulder pain pump.”
Jordana says her shoulder is now arthritic. Her first surgery was to repair the rotator cuff but it left her whole arm numb so the second surgery was intended to repair the nerve damage. She had another surgery in 2006 where part of her top rib was removed, but she says it left her “lopsided” and with a much more limited range of motion. She had pain pumps in every surgery.
“I was able to struggle through work until 2010, when I developed a tremor in my right hand,” Jordana adds. “My current surgeon thinks the problem stems from my neck but I think it has to do with my shoulder. I’m only 46 years old and I’ve been on long term disability since the summer. Pretty soon I’ll have to apply for social security benefits because there isn’t much work that I can do with a hand tremor.
“My physical therapist manipulated my neck and said she felt something weird??"the missing cartilage is making it unstable. Next week I am having an epidural in my neck, I guess to alleviate some of the pain and hopefully give me more range of motion.”
Meanwhile, Jordana’s doctor said his office will find out from the hospital which pain pump she was given??"a number of pain pump manufacturers have had their devices linked to shoulder chondrolysis (PAGCL), which is a condition that Jordana is suffering from. Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis is caused by cartilage break down between the humeral head and the ball and socket of the shoulder.
“I also found out that the pain pump was injected into a part of my shoulder that had not been approved by the FDA,” Jordana says. “This procedure was used off-label and that really pisses me off??"how can that be allowed? Now my cartilage has disintegrated because some drug rep told my surgeon that it was OK to use that way.
“Now I can’t even walk my dogs anymore and I can barely hold their leashes. Long walks are a thing of the past??"all because of those pain pumps.”
Lynn, a chiropractor, has a similar complaint. She dislocated her left shoulder after falling off her horse. Her orthopedic surgeon advised her to put her arm in a sling and not use her shoulder for 30 days. Everything was fine until she fell off her horse again in 2005, and had the same injury to the same shoulder.
In May of this year Lynn went to another orthopedic surgeon (her first surgeon was no longer on her health provider list??"she now has state health insurance). X-rays showed that all her cartilage is dissolved in her left shoulder. “He asked me how I could have done this much damage,” says Lynn. “I told him about the surgery and he asked if I had a shoulder pain pump. Yep. Then he told me I have PAGCL because of this pump. I’m a single mom and I don’t know how to continue to support my kids??"this problem is getting worse every day. I can barely work 20 hours a week??"I am very limited in what I can do but what choice do I have? I can’t change careers.
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“In the meantime I am on painkillers. I can’t get a good night’s sleep and I can no longer work with my horses??"that is very upsetting. And I have to take it easy--I’m not going to stress my shoulder to the point where it pops out of my socket so I have lost patients because of this shoulder pain pump. As you can imagine, I can’t stop worrying about the future. All because of a pain medication??"go figure.”