SPRINT PNS for low back pain
Growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, James was an active kid, playing baseball and basketball through high school. In his senior year, he added rodeo and loved interacting with the crowds and animals.
In addition, James and his brothers worked for their father’s road construction business, beginning at an early age. “People would tell me, ‘you’ve got it easy working for your dad,’ but don’t believe that. He had us waking up at 5 a.m. and would call our names over the radios to see if we were up,” James recalls.
Even though James was tossed around doing rodeo, he believes it’s the construction work that caused his back to hurt. He put in long hours building highways and bridges and paving subdivisions. “I was on the pipe and concrete crews, and we had to do a lot of lifting of pipes and things. I also used a ‘mule’ to push concrete to form gutters and sidewalks, which was hard work.”
He eventually moved into supervisory roles, but his back pain persisted. A few years ago, he saw a doctor, who prescribed medication, but it didn’t provide much relief. “After that, I just tried to live with it (the pain),” says James. “Sometimes I would just lay there in bed crying.”
Finally, in desperation, James reached out to a surgeon, who earlier had performed surgery on his neck (unrelated to his back pain), for advice. The surgeon referred him to Interventional Pain Specialist Dr. Eric Liu at the Institute for Precision Pain Management in Corpus Christi.
Dr. Liu began by giving James a steroid shot, which took away the pain — but only temporarily. He tried different medications to relieve the nerve pain. However, James had to quit one of the medications because it made him unable to walk. “I woke up one morning and my knees buckled, and I fell on the ground. I had to use a wheelchair for about a week and went through several MRIs to determine if I damaged anything when I fell,” explains James. The MRI showed no change, so his wife, Lysa, called the pharmacy to see if the inability to walk was a possible side effect of the medications. James says, “they told her that, for some people, it causes your knees to buckle. And that’s exactly what happened to me.” Thankfully a few days after stopping the medication, he could walk again, but the pain persisted.
Unable to sleep
He and Lysa purchased an adjustable bed to keep the weight off James’ back, which helped his sleep somewhat. However, he would awaken at all hours of the night, and Lysa would have to administer prescription medications to try to ease his pain.
In the mornings, Lysa would often have to help James into their jetted bathtub filled with water and Epsom salts to relax his muscles. Says James, “We tried everything.”
Declined quality of life
The nerve pain greatly diminished his quality of life. Sitting too long was painful. Standing too long was painful. Walking too much was painful. He couldn’t bend over or lift much either. According to Lysa, this was very difficult for James, who loves to work.
He also couldn’t do some of the other things he enjoyed, like being a greeter at church or even attending church. “I used to be a greeter at both of our Sunday morning services and would attend Sunday School in between. The pain medicine made me unstable, so I had to use a walker. Most of the time I couldn’t even sit through one service anymore,” James says. Since sitting was painful, he had to also eat many meals in his adjustable bed.
Discovering Sprint PNS
Over the course of a year and a half he tried multiple epidural steroid injections and nerve ablations, and they would help, but just for a short time. James had to rely daily on pain medicine, which was frustrating. Finally, while at Dr. Liu’s office, James heard about the SPRINT PNS system. “When I was told about SPRINT, I said, ‘Let’s go, I’m ready,’” recalls James.
On the day of the procedure Dr. Liu placed a lead on each side of James’ spine. “That afternoon, when I got home, I had no pain. I couldn’t believe it. My wife and I just started crying. It’s like the good Lord just took all that pain and lifted it out of my body.”
“That night I slept all night, and in the morning, my sweet daughter came in to give me a glass of water for my pills, and I actually told her, ‘I don’t need them, honey,” James says, choking back tears. “And I’ve been sleeping all night. It’s been months and I still feel no pain,” says James.
“I went to church two days afterwards and was walking around the sanctuary shaking everyone’s hands. My wife was watching and literally saw lots of jaws dropping.”
Since James completed his treatment with SPRINT, he is back to being a greeter and usher at his church. He’s also been able to enjoy activities that were out of the question when he was in pain, such as dining out and taking his daughter shopping at her favorite craft store. He’s also referred several church friends to Dr. Liu. “I have nothing but good things to say about SPRINT,” says James. “It made my life to where I could live again. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”