EPISODE #37 Cannabis and Pain with Dr. Matt Brown, Consultant in Pain Medicine



What actually is pain and can cannabis help?

We’re back this week with an extended episode on the topic of cannabis and pain. This week we’re joined by Dr. Matt Brown, an award-winning pain consultant based in London, UK. Dr. Brown takes a strong interest in the use of cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain and has recently published a piece of research into using cannabinoids for cancer pain treatment.

Listen in as we discover exactly what pain is, how cannabis may be able to help us cope with it, and the future for medical cannabis in the UK.

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About Dr. Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a consultant and clinician scientist in pain medicine based in London. He trained at King’s College London, winning the War Memorial and Wolfson Foundation Scholarships and graduating with distinction.

His clinical training in pain medicine was conducted at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Matt fulfilled his long-term interest in clinical research by gaining a National Institute for Health Research’s Academic Clinical Fellowship. This enabled him to conduct novel, award-winning research into pain at both Imperial College and King’s College, London. Subsequently Matt completed a Doctorate in Medicine at the Institute of Cancer Research (becoming the first anaesthetist in the Institute’s history to do so and winning the Chairman’s Prize at graduation).

Matt has published and lectured widely on the subject of pain. His research interests include cannabis medical products in pain, pain in cancer survivors, persistent post-surgical pain and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

Episode Summary

As a consultant and researcher in pain medicine, Dr. Brown’s clinical work sees him encountering many self-medicating patients who have turned cannabis for pain management. 

Dr. Brown sees is at the responsibility of a doctor to ensure that patient safety is safeguarded and protected, which is why he considers many of the approaches taken by the royal colleges very sensible. He is an advocate for more research into the side effects of cannabis as it is still largely misunderstood.

As defined by The International Association For The Study of Pain – pain is an ‘unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage’

Pain also encompasses emotional distress which can in turn impact mood and mental health

Dr. Brown looks at pain through a biopsychosocial model which is the idea that having pain impacts your social life and your psychological wellbeing too. Pain is a far more complex than a simple sensory process. 

Early pain research based on simple physiological research but the biopsychosocial model was adopted in the 60’s and 70’s. 

It is estimated that around 20-40% of people in the UK have suffered from chronic pain at some point in their lives. This has a huge impact on our economy when you think about the number of days work lost from pain. 

The burden of pain within our society will increase with our ageing population and an increased rate of cancer survivors. 

The number of pain specialists in the UK is very small.

Pain can affect us all very differently due to differentiating levels of psychological robustness.

Med Tech such as wearable devices, AI and smartphones can disrupt the way in which medicine is practised as it gives you the ability to monitor people more closely.

A problem with pain research is quantifying data – do you measure by a numerical rating scale? The measure of pain is largely anecdotal.

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