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Study Finds Low-Dose Injections Are Effective Pain Treatment following Shoulder Surgery

A low-dose corticosteroid injection was found to be just as effective in relieving pain for patients after shoulder surgery as a higher dose, scientists from the Ajou University School of Medicine in the Republic of Korea noted in a study, according to MedScape.

The study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, was led by Dr. Ji Yeon Hong and his colleages from the Ajou University School of Medicine. The researchers cited that the impetus for the investigation was the observation that physicians select corticosteroid drugs and doses based on their experience, rather than consulting scientific evidence, the news source reported.

Investigators in the study compared the effectiveness of various injections into the periarticular region of the shoulder. The 2mL of 20 mg triamcinolone acetonide was designated as a low dose, while the 4 mL triamcinolone acetonide was selected as the high dose, according to the news source.

A placebo was included in the study, and researchers administered additional lidocaine during the visualization of needle entry into the bursa and monitored the injections with ultrasound to maximize the consistency of the needle placement during the process.

A total of 79 participants were used, as these individuals had experienced periarticular, moderate to severe should pain for at least one month before the intervention occurred. Clinical diagnoses included impingement syndrome, rotator cuff lesions, subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis and/or biceps tendon abnormalities, according to the news source.

Following the eight weeks that were given for the study, researchers noted that there was minimal to no difference between the two non-placebo groups, and hypothesized that the larger doses were not seen to be more effective.

Another tool for the treatment of shoulder surgery pain had been the use of a pain pump. However, this method was the target of a lawsuit that was filed by a former University of Utah football star against the medical technology company who made the product, according to Deseret News.

The lawsuit alleged that the pain pump had caused severe cartilage loss and led to more pain, weakness in the muscle and a decreased range of motion, the newspaper reported.

"Despite his diligence, Mr. Kaufusi did not discover until the summer of 2010 that the pain pump was the likely cause of the cartilage degeneration in his left shoulder," the lawsuit stated.

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