What Is The Shoulder/Back Pain Pump And How Does It Work?

The shoulder or back pain pump is a small device that is surgically placed into the body in order to deliver pain medication via catheter to specific sites as needed. The pain pump itself is about the size of a hockey puck and is made of metal. It is surgically implanted beneath the skin of the back or abdomen with small plastic tubes running to the site of the pain.

How it Works

The pump can be programmed to release its pain medication (usually morphine or baclofen) on a preset schedule as directed by a doctor. It can be refilled, reprogrammed, and adjusted as necessary and removed should it become unnecessary or the patient change his mind at any time.

It was generally considered to be a favorable alternative to other treatments for extreme or chronic shoulder or back pain because it was less invasive than major surgery. Also, according to the Mayfield online health journal, since the medication released by the pump was applied directly to the target area and bypassed the route taken by oral medication, only approximately 1/300th of the amount was necessary to control the same amount of pain.

Problems With Pain Pumps

However good all of this may seem on paper, a number of pumps have been recalled by the manufacturers. While they may have reduced the pain caused by the original condition, they have caused their own problems. Many patients have experienced damage or destruction of cartilage around the target treatment sites, causing the condition known as Post Anthroscopic Glenohumeral Chrondolysis.

Zimmer Biomet Reverse Shoulder Replacement

This condition can be permanent, as the rebuilding of cartilage is very difficult and the shoulder joint or back can continue to sustain damage as long as the pump is operational. In extreme cases, ironically, the patient must undergo major surgery to attempt to repair or reverse the damage done by the pain pump.

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