Gone are the days where pharmacists are only recognised for ‘filling scripts’. A rising number of patients are now choosing their local pharmacy as a first point of contact for alternative pain management options.
Pharmacy Pain Clinics
Hopkins initiated the natural pain clinic programme in October, 2019. The appointments involve a free 20 minute consultation about current medication and an opportunity to use NuroKor’s bioelectric nerve stimulation technology. The wearable devices use electrical currents to manage pain, regenerate and repair, as well as reduce inflammation and recovery time.
“Normally within ten minutes patients have had a response, and quite often a significant one… One lady who was suffering with chronic arthritis of the hands was treated predominantly with the microcurrent and neuromuscular therapy modes. Within two weeks, she came back to us to say that she was very grateful for recommending the device and she'd been able to slice a loaf of bread for the first time in three years and comb her own hair.”
Mark continues, “I’ve had another couple of instances of patients coming in with massive back spasms...it took literally three or four minutes for them to walk through the door to the consultation room and within 14 minutes they were walking out upright. So it is a very, very powerful tool.”
A common question, Hopkins receives from clinicians and patients, is how bioelectronic technology actually works?
“The way I tend to explain it to clinicians and patients is that your body is effectively controlled by chemicals and electricity. Usually, if you have a chemical imbalance your doctor will prescribe you other chemicals to rebalance that problem. Therefore, why not use electricity to balance the problem that's caused by electrical problems? So it’s really opening people's eyes that there is another option to going down the opiate driven route.”
NuroKor’s technology primarily uses three core bioelectronic technologies; Peripheral Nerve Stimulation (PNS), Neuromuscular Stimulation (NMS) and Microcurrent Stimulation (MCS).
NuroKor PNS is a bioelectric treatment that produces analgesia and interrupts pain receptor signals, to prevent them from reaching the brain. NMS, offers physical therapy designed to relax muscles, improve circulation and to speed up the recovery process. It can also provide rehabilitation, muscle conditioning and improve muscle strength. MCS mimics the body’s natural bioelectrical current, to help reduce pain and inflammation and counteract muscle damage, by promoting tissue repair and recovery.
Alternative to painkillers
Since Hopwoods Pharmacy launched the service, the pain clinic has provided approximately 250 consultations using NuroKor’s technology. Helping patients who are struggling to cope with both their pain and the side-effects of opioids. The programme has also expanded to 12 pain clinics across Wales and Scotland.
“There are an increasing number of pharmacies interested in providing natural pain clinics for their patients, because many people are struggling with the negative side-effects of using opiates.”
According to Hopkins, there has also been an increased demand from people to treat themselves from home.
“We’ve seen demand for the clinics has risen dramatically since the first lockdown and we’ve seen patients with a variety of conditions able to reduce their painkiller intake by 50-85 per cent and some now aren’t taking painkillers at all.”
‘Electroceuticals’ innovating pharmacy
Mark believes bioelectronics can be a great adjunct or alternative for pain therapy, concluding:
“People in general are reliant on medication, they sometimes see that as the only outcome to solving their problem, hopefully the work that we're doing will change that philosophy.”