SPRINT PNS; Cluster Headache Pain
One evening in December 2011, Tim, a grandfather of five, suddenly came down with the worst headache of his life. It was so painful and frightening that he immediately grabbed his wallet and keys and drove himself to the emergency room — even though his wife was sleeping upstairs.
“I thought it was a brain aneurysm or a stroke,” Tim recalls. “I really thought I was dying, and I didn’t want to wait for an ambulance. I’ve had kidney stones a few times and compared to the 10 on a pain scale I was having with these headaches, I’d give those a four. I had never experienced this level of excruciating pain.”
At the ER, the physician diagnosed him with a cluster headache, a condition that causes intense pain in specific parts of the head. Tim was given morphine at the hospital and when he awoke, the headache was gone. Unfortunately, however, the news was not good: the doctor told Tim there was no cure for cluster headaches and that they would likely happen again. That’s when he suggested that Tim seek a specialist.
Tim took the doctor’s advice and over time, visited a series of specialists. Each one went through similar treatment protocols that included trying different drugs, but none of the therapies or drugs brought any real relief of the headaches he continued to experience.
Meanwhile, Tim’s headaches, which were concentrated on the left side of his head and eye, began occurring about three times a day, with each episode lasting for up to two hours. In a desperate attempt to get some pain relief, Tim tried banging his head on the floors and walls, which terrified his wife, Marie.
These intense headaches would interrupt his sleep, so Tim never felt fully rested. And he found that no amount of painkillers would even touch the pain, so he stopped taking them. He fell into despair over his inability to get any relief. “Honestly, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was considering suicide and the only thing that kept me going were my kids and grandkids,” says Tim.
Work as a distraction
For over a decade, Tim lived with the headaches, continuing to work as a field engineer for a large automaker. Though he probably could have retired, he says that work gave him purpose and enabled him to take his mind off the headaches, at least for small periods of time.
Tim eventually was prescribed an injectable migraine medication, which shortened the headaches’ duration, but didn’t stop them. In addition, Tim was given high doses of steroids, which included their own set of side effects.
He saw another specialist who performed a series of nerve ablations (in an attempt to reduce the painful signals coming from specific nerves), but Tim found they had no effect on his headache pain. Finally, he was put in touch with Dr. Jose Sarria, founder of Aspire Pain Relief Institute, who began by giving Tim nerve blocks, which provided only temporary relief.
Introducing the SPRINT® PNS System
“Tim experienced relief from the diagnostic blocks, but the relief was not durable. That’s why I believed the SPRINT PNS System, which has the potential to provide both significant and sustained relief, would be a good option for him” says Dr. Sarria. And Tim was eager to see if the SPRINT System would work for him.
Tim had to wait a few months to try SPRINT PNS, however, as his employer’s insurance was not willing to cover the device. That’s when SPR Therapeutics’ SPRcare® team stepped in. They worked closely with Dr. Sarria’s office and his insurance company to assist with paperwork and appeals and monitor the status of his claim. Finally, as the result of the collaborative appeal efforts, an external reviewer reversed the insurance’s denial and mandated that they cover it as a medical necessary treatment for Tim.
To Tim, this whole process appeared seamless. “I really didn’t think I’d get it covered, but SPRcare facilitated the process, and they knew what to do. All I had to do was wait and then show up for the procedure. They were wonderful,” he says.
Relief begins to take hold
Once Tim’s SPRINT treatment started, he says it took some time to feel any effect. Eventually, though, he noticed that his headaches, which usually had a sudden onset, were taking longer to come on. “I thought, ‘okay, something’s actually happening,’” recalls Tim. “Then, a few weeks later, they became less frequent, and one day I thought, ‘it’s been two days, and I haven’t hit myself in the head or anything.’ The headaches stopped. I couldn’t believe it.”
Tim says he went from having a pain level of 10 for six hours a day to only having an occasional headache that he manages with the injectable medication. Without the daily headaches, Tim has now retired from his job because he no longer needs it as a distraction for his pain and says, “I can now focus on getting back into shape and actually living life.”
His sleep has drastically improved, and he says he feels a new sense of optimism. His loved ones have noticed a big difference in his demeanor. “When the grandkids were visiting for the 4th of July holiday, a couple of them separately mentioned to me, ‘boy Grampy, you’ve really changed since the last time I saw you. I mean, you’re up, you’re moving, you’re having fun, and you’re laughing like you used to,’” says Tim with a smile. “It’s all thanks to the SPRINT PNS System.”
The SPRINT PNS System is indicated for up to 60 days for: (i) Symptomatic relief of chronic, intractable pain, post-surgical and post-traumatic acute pain; (ii) Symptomatic relief of post-traumatic pain; and (iii) Symptomatic relief of post-operative pain. The SPRINT PNS System is not intended to be placed in the region innervated by the cranial and facial nerves.
Each patient’s testimonial is the result of each patient’s unique situation resulting in varying responses, experiences, risks, and outcomes to the SPRINT PNS System. The patient experiences shared on this page are not medical advice and should not be substituted for the independent medical judgment of a trained healthcare professional. Discuss your options and use of the SPRINT PNS System with your medical provider. Physicians should use their best judgment when deciding when to use the SPRINT PNS System. For more information see the SPRINT PNS System IFU.
Most common side effects are skin irritation and erythema. Results may vary. Rx only.