Montgomery, AL. (Oct. 1, 2007) – Hundreds of individuals across the country use high volume pain pumps to cope with the incredible pain that often follows shoulder surgery. Now a new study suggests that the pumps may deliver too much medicine causing a loss of cartilage that can lead to lifelong pain and suffering.

“All of a sudden we started seeing these patients come in with this mysterious and rare condition,” says Dr. Brent Hansen, an orthopedic surgeon and senior author of the study. “So, we decided to look back and see what they all had in common and what had changed. That’s when we started looking closer at the pain pump and found that 63 percent of the patients who used one after surgery had all developed this horrible complication.. Of course we stopped using them right away, but we felt obligated to do everything we could to help spread the word throughout the medical community.”

The article, published last week in the October 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM), demonstrates a strong association between the intra-articular use of high volume pain pumps following arthroscopic shoulder surgery and an otherwise unexplainable loss of hyaline cartilage in the shoulder joint. The complication, known as Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL), is permanent and can lead to extreme pain and lifelong suffering. The authors call on their fellow physicians to stop using pain pumps in the shoulder joint immediately.

Numerous lawsuits are pending against the companies that manufacture, market or distribute the pain pumps, including Stryker, DJO Inc., I-Flow Inc., BREG Inc. and others. Included among the many claims in the lawsuits are the allegations that the manufacturers failed to instruct or warn the U.S. medical community the safe use of the pain pumps in the shoulder joint space had not been established or that the continuous injections of commonly used anesthetics may cause permanent injury.

“We have already found dozens of people across the country whose lives have been devastated by these pain pumps,” says attorney Ted Meadows of the Montgomery, Alabama.-based law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles and spokesperson for a group of attorneys taking on new plaintiffs to hold the manufacturers accountable. “These are supposed to be routine outpatient procedures, but the patients often endure several more surgeries and most will eventually need complete shoulder replacement.”

Meadows and the other attorneys expect hundreds of individuals across the country will now come forward with their own stories of ongoing pain and suffering they have experienced after using one of these devices. Here are just a few of the many stories that they have discovered so far:

• “I use to find a great sense of satisfaction in helping others in need of rehabilitation,” says Kate Baker, a 28-year old physical therapist from Raleigh, North Carolina, who used a pain pump after surgery to repair an unstable shoulder. “Now I can no longer do the job I loved because it requires physical strength and abilities I no longer have.”

• “My dad had dreams of retiring soon,” says Travis Quimby, a 26-year old from Dayton, Ore., who used a pain pump after shoulder surgery to repair a football injury in high school. “I always imagined I would someday take over the family poultry farm. Now I can’t put in a full day’s work and my dad has had to hire someone else. It breaks my heart to think I am letting him down.”

• “I use to play softball at a very competitive level, says Jessica Lopez, an 18-year old student from Chandler, Arizona, who had a pain pump installed following surgery to repair a torn labrum. “My dad coached the team and we were very close. Now I am in constant pain and I can’t play anymore. I lost my scholarship, I lost contact with my friends on the team and my dad and I are not as close anymore. I miss it all terribly.”

• “I use to love ballroom dancing,” says Kathy Forest, a 62-year old flight attendant from Vancouver, Wash. She used a pain pump after routine surgery to repair her rotator cuff. “Dancing was such a big part of my life, but now it’s just too painful. My biggest fear, though, is that I may never be able to work again. I am my family’s sole source of income.”

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