Post radiotherapy pain relief from PENS therapy®


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kevin is a 52yr old male patient of Dr Arun Bhaskar - Consultant in Pain Medicine & Anaesthesia at The Christie Hospital, Manchester. 

In 2000, Kevin had an excision of a parotid gland tumour. Two weeks after surgery, he underwent a four-week course of radiotherapy as recommended for his cancer.

About 6 months after the surgery and radiotherapy treatment, Kevin began to experience severe neuropathic pain on the left side of his neck. He was told that this was due to nerve damage caused by the surgery and radiotherapy to his neck. 

Kevin describes this pain as severe - "like somebody is slapping me across the neck & face - a sharp pain". The pain extends from the surgical scar, around his ear, head and into the left side of his face. 

Over the years Kevin has been prescribed several medications including neuropathic pain medications and strong opioids such as Morphine, Diamorphine infusions via syringe drivers, Fentanyl patches & lozenges, Pethidine etc. Kevin describes the opioid-based management as "a waste of time with little benefit." Continuous Diamorphine infusions were the only treatment that worked for him, but this treatment "spaced him out"! 

On a daily basis Kevin rated his level of pain as 8/10 on a Visual Analogue Scale. 

PENS therapy, a minimally invasive diagnostic therapy, which enables the physician to determine whether a patient is likely to benefit from an implanted stimulation device, although for some patients it may also provide ongoing pain management, thereby avoiding the need for more invasive therapies, with their attendant risks. There are also patients for whom an implanted device is not appropriate and in these cases PENS therapy offers an alternative where other less invasive or pharmacological modalities have failed. PENS was the first treatment modality that gave Kevin good pain relief without any side-effects.

To date Kevin has had 5 separate PENS therapy treatments, each lasting 25 minutes, utilising a 50mm PENS therapy probe inserted parallel to the scar. Whilst the treatment took place Kevin described the Pain as reducing to 5/10 VAS and this reduced to 1/10 shortly after the treatment was complete. This analgesic effect lasts more than 8-10 weeks.

When questioned about what he thinks of PENS therapy Kevin said "this has made my life 100% better! It has stopped me having a pain that no-one could cure". 

Kevin continues to see Dr Bhaskar approximately every 3 months for PENS treatment. He is currently not on any neuropathic pain medications or any other form of systemic analgesics and his quality of life much improved.