Pain Pumps a Source of Relief for Post-Operative Joint Pain

Two of the body’s largest joints, the shoulder and the knee, are vulnerable to relatively minor injuries that can lead to painful, debilitating instability.

The shoulder is a highly complex joint, based on its anatomical construction and biomechanics, and has a large range of motion. Even a minor shoulder injury can cause damaging instability.

Similarly, the knee has a complex structure that, in supporting the body’s weight, sustains massive stress from the force of walking. Like the shoulder, the knee is susceptible to injuries that can have devastating consequences.

When surgery is performed to repair the damage or alleviate the pain of shoulder or knee injury, anesthetic infusion devices – commonly referred to as “pain pumps” – are often used to manage post-surgery pain. One reason is, pain pumps can provide excellent post-operative pain relief with a reduced dosage of narcotics. They are often used in combination with anesthetics such as bupivacaine (Marcaine, Sensorcaine), lidocaine, or ropivacaine, either with or without epinephrine.

Surgeons typically implant a pain pump after joint surgery to facilitate continuous delivery of pain relief through a catheter. Health care providers in the operating room will select the specific anesthetic and program delivery settings immediately after surgery. This pain relief delivery system may operate for several hours or a few days. The catheter is removed and discarded when the pain pump is no longer necessary.