We’ve all done it: attempted to simplify our pain into a simple 1 to 10 scale when a health care provider asks for such an assessment. But for some patients, this process can be fairly complex. As a solution, Indiana University researchers have developed a test to objectively measure pain.
Through a simple blood test, researchers discovered that biomarkers can be used to show how much pain the patient is feeling. This could someday have a dramatic impact on the national opioid crisis by giving doctors a quantifiable way to manage the pain of their patients.
But what are these biomarkers? They are molecules that show which disease may exist within the patient and how severe it may be, in the same way that glucose levels can indicate diabetes. The researchers then used a database to match pain biomarkers with treatment options. They believe their findings can eventually help doctors administer drugs correctly and lessen the impact of the opioid epidemic.
The biomarkers also have the potential to help direct health care professionals toward the right treatment path and can even help predict when patients might experience pain in the future. That’s right, these biomarkers could prove to be revolutionary for people managing chronic pain, if additional studies pan out.
The researchers hope to continue moving toward clinical application of their work. For now, they feel they have a solid foundation, but they hope to dig deeper into factors such as illness and gender.
Perhaps within the next decade, we will no longer have to rate our pain on a scale of 1 to 10 — we can just let our biomarkers do the talking.