SPRINT PNS for low back pain
“I like to think SPRINT may have given me a little more longevity to my career.”
Low Back Pain
Indianapolis police officer and patrol officer trainer Chris Kibbey ran track and cross country in high school — an activity he remained passionate about even as an adult. “Running was always my thing,” says Chris. “I was running marathons, half marathons, before everything started to go haywire in my back.” Muscle spasms made Chris give up this beloved activity seven years ago and the pain began to affect other parts of his life.
“When my back would spasm, I couldn’t go to work. I’d be sitting in a recliner on an ice pack for days. If I was lucky, it was during my days off. If not, I had to use sick time and vacation time,” says Chris. He says it didn’t help that he always wears a gun belt around his waist, which weighs about 25 to 30 pounds. “There were times I had to go to work in plain clothes so I didn’t have to wear it, trying to recover from the spasms.”
The pain affected his home life as well. “When my two girls were younger, they needed attention and things done for them,” says Chris, who is a single parent. “When my back was out, I felt bad. I was just kind of at the mercy of whoever could come and help me.
To find relief, Chris began using heating pads, stretching exercises, and tried chiropractic, which relieved the pain for a short while, but didn’t really solve the problem. The spasms became more frequent, too. “Everything I did, I had to really be careful because I knew if I moved the wrong way or picked something up, I was just going to be down and out. There were times on a (pain) scale of one to 10, I was right at 10.”
Opioids not an option
Fighting the pain wore Chris out, but as a police officer, he saw firsthand the devastation addiction to prescription painkillers caused his community, so he never considered taking them. Instead, he took Ibuprofen, which made him nervous because of its impact on the liver when taken in large amounts.
“I finally saw a back surgeon and they did an MRI,” says Chris. That’s when Dr. John Kihlken of Franciscan Health informed Chris of the arthritis in his low back. Dr. Kihlken prescribed a daily anti-inflammatory medication and performed an ablation, but Chris says within a few months the nerves would grow back and the pain would return. After a third ablation procedure, Chris continued to have pain, and that’s when his doctor explained that the procedure caused scar tissue, making it more difficult to reach the affected nerves.
At that point, Dr. Kihlken mentioned the SPRINT® PNS 60-day treatment and his success with other patients experiencing similar pain. Chris was eager to try it, and after obtaining insurance approval, Dr. Kihlken implanted the device.
“When the SPRINT unit was on, I could tell an immediate difference in my pain,” says Chris. And, he says he was careful to be very compliant during treatment, making sure to use the device for the 12 hours a day as directed. And while he says he likely won’t return to running because he still has arthritis in his back, he has resumed other activities, like lawn work, riding his Peloton bike, and golfing.
Today, Chris marvels at how good he feels: “I think I pretty much function now with a back pain of one or two” (on a ten-point scale). And his family can tell the difference, too. “My kids are the ones who’ve noticed the biggest change. We can go on bike rides and do things together. I don’t have to worry anymore about the pain.”
As for how the treatment has affected his work, Chris says he can do so much more now without having to wonder whether bending the wrong way will send his back into spasms. “I can go out on patrols with my rookies … and I like to think SPRINT may have given me a little more longevity to my career,” says Chris.