Australian research scientists have devised a new blood test to measure pain called “painHS”. They say the “painHS” will soon be an accurate tool for objectively telling doctors how much pain their patient is suffering from.
How does the new pain assessment test work?
Th.e “color of pain” project is run by University of Adelaide Medical School (Australia) neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson. According to Hutchinson, the test employs advanced electromagnetic spectrum analysis shows how pain changes the molecular structure of immune cells.
Chronic pain shows up in immune cells as a color
“We are literally quantifying the color of pain,” says Hutchinson. “We’ve now discovered that we can use the natural color of biology to predict how bad your pain is. Persistent chronic pain suffers have different colors in the immune cells than those without pain.”
Hyperspectral imaging enables the researchers to examine the electromagnetic spectrum of each and every pixel in an image of an immune cell. They can then identify the explicit colors present only in the immune cells of chronic pain patients.
The researchers hope that further advancement of the test will enable doctors to accurately judge both:
- The levels of pain endured by each patient, and
- Each patient’s personal tolerance for pain
Pain is, of course, the most subjective of all medical symptoms
There is currently no reliable and accurate method to objectively quantify the pain a patient is experiencing. One patient’s “three” may well be another patient’s “seven”.
Any doctor’s interpretation of what they hear from a patient would certainly be enhanced by objective data. In addition to these diagnostic tools, pain management doctors accumulates a wealth of experience which hones a keenly developed intuitive sense.
So each diagnosis and treatment plan combines science with art.
Divergences will occur
What will happen when the “objective painHS” test paints a differently colored pain picture than the portrait of pain self-reported by the patient? If the test results assert that a patient’s pain level is a “4”, while the patient says it feels like an “8”, which version will control the patient’s treatment?
There’s very little danger the test will ever be used to over-prescribe pain drugs. But could it be used to deny patients the pain relief they vitally need to lead a functional and gratifying life?
A blood test can never replace your communication with your doctor about the pain you’re feeling
Hutchison emphasizes the “painHS” test is not meant to replace the subjective description of pain which a doc hears from a patient. “Self-reporting” by patients is still key, but what about those ‘forgotten people’ who can’t communicate their pain level?
With this test even babies or people with dementia, can even have their condition diagnosed and treated.
We here at Nuvo Spine will be viewing further developments of the “painHS” test with cautious optimism. Until a test is 100% accurate in every circumstance, we foresee some problems arising from its use.
But it is good news that research scientists are developing a helpful tool for assessing the pain of those for whom communication with their doctor is difficult or impossible.
Nuvo Spine and Sports specializes in orthopedic pain management. We approach our work armed with regenerative strategies bred from sports medicine and the neurological sciences.
The Nuvo team of medical professionals are solely dedicated to minimizing or eradicating pain by addressing the underlying conditions that cause the pain. We are proud that we consistently achieve that goal and successfully enhance our patient’s overall quality of life.
To request more information or schedule a consultation, please call (888) 370-9334 or make your appointment online.