Board-certified family medicine physician and pain specialist Dr. Okky Oei has put the patient first, treating thousands of people with varying degrees of acute and chronic pain for more than 40 years. Since opening Hope Clinic in the Airpark in 2018, however, Oei has turned his attention and time to also helping fellow therapists. Of the 20 or so therapists he has personally trained and certified at his Scottsdale clinic, several are helping Oei expand Hope Clinic—internationally.
“Of course, I’d like to see more Hope Clinics in the US—and Arizona, for starters,” Oei says. “But the neat part is Hope Clinic worldwide has actually begun.”
Since Hope Clinic’s inception, Oei and his staff have treated all types of problems such as back pain; arthritis; hip, knee, and foot pain; carpal tunnel; tennis and golf elbow; and neuropathy. What sets Hope Clinic apart is its approach.
Hope Clinic not only provides pain relief through non-invasive technology, myofascial release techniques, and other therapeutic approaches, but it also specializes in integrative medicine, forgoing invasive procedures and narcotic prescriptions.
“We don’t use any opiates at all. We don’t prescribe anything. We don’t inject anything. And yet, our results are over 90% (positive). We see very positive results,” Oei says.
Simply put, Oei says, Hope Clinic helps the body do what it needs to do in the first place, which is repair and heal. It’s this approach to medicine and treatment that Oei teaches fellow therapists. Oei also developed a training program that allows him to duplicate the clinic through webinars and certification. While Hope Clinic was on its way to expanding in 2019 and 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed it, Oei says, forcing him to briefly furlough his staff and close both Valley locations. Within a couple months, however, he was able to reopen the Scottsdale office and reignite expansion.
“A group that became very interested in this from Indonesia happened to be here, living in the States. So, I trained them, and they have now started Hope Clinic Indonesia. It’s starting to expand,” Oei says.
Oei has also had an expansion in patients amid the pandemic, particularly among young adults seeking pain treatment, notably related to sports and physical activity. “We see a wide variety of things and also age groups, anything from the younger to, very often, the older,” Oei says.
As a result of COVID-19, which saw many Americans working from home, Hope Clinic has treated pain related to increased laptop use, including “the back, oftentimes when the muscles get tight, overuse of hands and arms and carpal tunnel,” Oei says.
According to an April 2021 study in the journal Demography, chronic pain has significantly increased for all U.S. adult demographics, including young adults. Overall, chronic pain affects more than 20% of U.S. adults, and the joints and lower back were highlighted as the most prevalent sites of pain.
“The U.S. health care system focuses on procedures and medications. For pain, however, the focus needs to shift to prevention and management, including support of self-management and interdisciplinary conservative treatment approaches,” corresponding author Dr. Anna Zajacova told Medical News Today.
And that’s what Oei would like to do more of, particularly among younger patients: help them understand the source of the pain and help them manage it in a non-invasive way. “My goal and my hope is… (to) get to people earlier and really have them understand, because most people, once they know what we do, it makes sense and it becomes then kind of a logical interest of why we do things and what they need to do,” Oei says.
Oei’s interest in pain management began while he was in medical school in 1969. It was during this time that he sustained a severe back strain injury that became chronic. Unfortunately, he discovered his body couldn’t tolerate any muscle relaxants or pain killers. Oei turned to alternative ways to manage his back pain and spasms. Fast forward to 1972 and Oei was practicing family medicine. Within six months, he observed an increase in chronic pain sufferers—and his interest was piqued.
Upon moving to Scottsdale in 1984, Oei was introduced to microcurrent electrical therapy and low-level cold laser, modalities that he would soon discover led to, when combined, “exponential results” in treating pain. Then, in 2007, Oei formed Laser Health Technologies, a company that helped develop the LaserTouchOne, a first-of-its-kind product that is clinically proven to be 93% effective in reducing pain. Considered a safe alternative to medication or surgery, the product has since been cleared by the FDA for prescription and for over-the-counter use.
“It’s safe and easy to use and available without a prescription,” Oei said in 2010, at the time of the product’s FDA clearance for direct-to-consumer OTC distribution. “In addition, the LaserTouchOne is portable and personal—delivering drug-free, pain-free relief—and is as easy to hold and use as an electric toothbrush.”
After opening the Eureka Pain Relief Clinic and offering non-invasive and non-opioid treatments, Oei began training other therapists, and in 2018, finally opened Hope Clinic. “it was always a dream to be able to treat more people, and most importantly, share it with other therapists and (teach) other professionals how to do it, since this is not something that you would find in mainstream medicine,” Oei explains.
Looking ahead, Oei hopes to not only expand Hope Clinic throughout Arizona—and worldwide—but also help others understand their pain, instead of, as he puts it, opting for a “Band-Aid therapy” that helps people feel better with temporary pain relief but doesn’t restore or heal the body.
“I want people to understand that this is not the instruments. It’s really what we do to help the body do the work. We have a phenomenal body,” Oei says. “I tell patients, ‘Your miracle is your body, because it was designed to repair and heal.’”