SPRINT PNS for back pain
Over his 38-year career, Dave, a retired orthopedic physician’s assistant (PA), spent long hours standing in the operating room assisting in joint replacement surgeries. And at six-feet four inches and nearly 300 pounds, his fellow team members also often relied on Dave to help them maneuver their larger patients.
Dave says all of that standing and lifting took a toll on his back. “I noticed as I was getting older and standing in the operating room, I was starting to get a lot of low back pain,” says Dave. “I just couldn’t do things I used to.” Then, about a year before he retired, he was having to use a cane to get around, so standing in the OR was no longer possible.
Joint issues added to back pain
Before retirement, Dave had to have his own left knee and right hip replaced due to arthritis. “The whole time I was helping with joint replacements,” says Dave, “I never imagined myself to be on that operating table.” He adds, “I think these joint issues probably compounded the back issue, so I finally consulted with a pain management specialist.”
That specialist tried several things, including physical therapy, having Dave wear a back brace, and localized injections. When none of those options helped Dave’s pain, the doctor performed a rhizotomy, which uses electricity to deaden the nerve root. “I got about a year’s worth or relief out of that one,” says Dave, “but then the pain came back with a vengeance.”
By this time Dave couldn’t stand up for long. “My wife, Theresa, would get upset because I couldn’t go anywhere. The minute we went someplace, I would start looking for a chair so I could sit down.”
The pain also made Dave withdraw socially. “I would sit at home because it was just too uncomfortable to go out. I’m usually pretty gregarious, but I just went into a shell and didn’t find joy in anything because pain just kind of governed everything,” says Dave.
When Dr. Thomas Lee of Timonium Surgery Center in Maryland took over Dave’s care, he began with steroid injections, which Dave says only worked temporarily. Then Dr. Lee told Dave about the SPRINT® PNS System.
After leaving Dr. Lee’s office with a SPRINT brochure, Dave also did some online research. “I thought, this seems relatively minimally invasive and it is certainly well worth trying because I swore, and still do, that I would never have back surgery,” says Dave.
About a week after Dr. Lee implanted the system, Dave noticed a difference in his pain. “I started feeling so good that I began doing more activities around the house. I was adjusting it [the settings] to where I got a nice steady state of pain control.” And he says the relief got better each week.
Today, although Dave faces yet another joint replacement with his other knee, he says he’s happy again. “Just being able to do my daily activities and being able to go out for dinner, my life is so much better,” says Dave. He’s even recommended SPRINT to people at his church. “They saw what I was like before when I was in pain and now, they say, ‘the old Dave is back,’” says Dave. “In fact, if I were still a practicing PA, I would recommend it to my patients as well.”