FOR medical professionals, at times it can be hard to identify exactly how much pain a patient is in, especially if they aren’t able to clearly communicate it.
But in a world-first, this challenge could be a thing of the past with a test that can now identify the extent of pain, using the colour of biomarkers in the blood.
People with dementia, babies and even severely disabled patients who were once forced to suffer in silence, will benefit from the discovery.
The breakthrough painHS test was developed by a team of Australian scientists after they discovered that biologically, the colour of the immune cells in acute pain is different to the cells associated with chronic pain.
The test uses light measurement tools which can immediately detect if a patient is in chronic pain.
“We will be able to take a simple blood sample, and within minutes we are able to determine if someone has persistent pain,” Professor Mark Hutchinson told Nine News.
“We are literally quantifying the colour of pain.”
The neuroscientist will reveal the test in Sydney at a meeting of the Faculty of Pain Medicine.
Professor Hutchinson says the test will be beneficial especially to babies and patients suffering dementia, anyone who cannot communicate the extent of their pain.
While self-reporting will remain a key way of diagnosing pain, people that slip through the cracks because they can’t communicate what condition they are in, can now be treated more effectively.
Professor Hutchinson believes the test can even revolutionise the way animals are treated for pain. “We have a Doctor Dolittle-type of test that enables us to ‘talk’ to the animals, so we can find out if they are experiencing pain and then we can help them,” he said.
It’s hoped the painHS test will be available for use by the broader medical community, including GPs in the next 18 months..