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Airing Pain 143: Personalised Medicine and Empowered Pain Relief

This edition of Airing Pain focuses on the treatment of pain, the importance of catering treatment to a person’s individual genetic makeup, and why addressing the psychological dimensions of pain is crucial in treating it effectively.

The process of finding a medication or treatment that works for a person often involves a lot of trial and error, which can be a frustrating process for someone to go through. This process can be side-stepped through the use of personalised medicine, where information about a person’s genetic makeup is used to tailor and optimise their treatment so it is as effective as possible.

Although medication is oftentimes a vital part of treating pain, incorporating psychological treatment alongside medication can be hugely beneficial when it comes to making pain management better for those living with acute or chronic pain. Changing how someone thinks about pain can enhance their response to the physical components of the treatment they receive.

Our contributors for this edition discuss the ways in which the treatment of pain can be made more effective for people by incorporating personalised medicine or psychological treatments into a person’s care plan.


Professor Tony Dickenson, Professor of Neuropharmacology at University College London

Dr. Beth Darnall, PhD, Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Director, Stanford Pain Relief Innovations Lab.

Professor Irene Tracey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford and a Professor of Anaesthetic Neuroscience in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences.


This edition of was made possible thanks to funding from the Guy Fawkes Charitable Trust and support from the British Pain Society.

Time Stamps:

1:11 Paul introduces Professor Tony Dickenson, a professor of neuropharmacology at University College London.

3:21 Professor Tony Dickenson discusses ‘precision medicine’, ‘personalised medicine’, and how looking at peoples’ genetic makeup can help medical professionals treat pain more effectively.

14:21 Paul introduces Dr Beth Darnall, a psychologist and scientist from the School of Medicine at Stanford University, who he spoke to at the British Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2023.

14:54 Dr Beth Darnall explains the psychological components of how people experience pain.

20:24 Paul introduces Professor Irene Tracy, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, who he spoke to at the British Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2023.

20:57 Dr Irene Tracy discusses the work she’s done on neuroimaging and how the human brain constructs the experience of pain.

23:22 Paul and Dr Tracy talk about what neuroimaging tells us about the multidimensional way the human brain reacts to pain.

26:06 Beginning of discussion about Empowered Relief, a psychology-based intervention that provides people with skills and tools to help manage their acute or chronic pain.

26:31 Dr Beth Darnall discusses the psychological side of treating pain and how empowered relief is used to help people manage their pain.

29:10 Dr Beth Darnall talks about the psychological tools people learn through Empowered Relief and how they help with pain management.

If you have any feedback about Airing Pain, you can leave us a review via our Airing Pain survey.

Additional Resources

Airing Pain 100: Glasgow Pain Education Sessions

Empowered Relief

Pain Matters 80: What treatment really works

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