Pharmaceutical

Shoulder surgery decision weighs on Rockies’ Jeff Francis

Denver Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis has been trying to ignore the aching pain in his shoulder, but what is causing him more pain is deciding whether to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum flap, according to the Denver Post.

A torn labrum flap is an injury to the part of shoulder joint. Having the surgery could likely end the season for Francis. Though he is a month behind on his throwing program, he says he will continue to pitch and hope that he can work past the shoulder discomfort.

Perhaps one reason Francis hopes to avoid surgery is that shoulder surgery often requires a pain pump for post-operative pain management. The pump is implanted into the shoulder joint during surgery and delivers a steady amount of medication to the surgery wound site. This is often a preferred alternative to narcotics and pain-killers, which can have negative side effects.

However, post-operative pain pumps recently have been associated with a painful condition known as Post-arthoscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis , or PAGCL, in which the cartilage in the shoulder joint break down, causing the bones to rub against each other. The damage can occur rapidly. PAGCL is believed to be irreversible and may require extensive surgeries.

The symptoms of PAGCL can begin to develop as early as two months after surgery up to a year following the procedure. Symptoms of PAGCL include decreased mobility and range of motion; constant pain both at rest and in motion; shoulder stiffness and/or weakness; and popping, clicking, grinding noise in the shoulder. Those who experience symptoms are encouraged to contact their physicans.