Patients often find it difficult to communicate the severity of persistent pain they are experiencing. In the case of babies or dementia patients, it becomes an even greater challenge. But a revolutionary new blood test could give doctors instant insight into chronic pain by identifying colored biomarkers in the blood.

The painHS test, developed by a team of Australian scientists, can reportedly identify color adjustments in immune cells of those suffering from chronic pain, providing doctors a new strategy to diagnose the severity of pain.

The breakthrough occurred when researchers discovered that chronic pain is biologically a different color in immune cells when compared to regular acute pain.

“We are literally quantifying the color of pain,” said neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson, a professor at the University of Adelaide Medical School in Australia. “We’ve now discovered that we can use the natural color of biology to predict the severity of pain. What we’ve found is that persistent chronic pain has a different natural color in immune cells than in a situation where there isn’t persistent pain.”

Using hyperspectral imaging research, pain biomarkers can be instantly recognized giving doctors the ability to measure a patient’s pain tolerance and sensitivity, and thereby regulate the dosage of painkillers administered.

“Animals can’t tell us if they’re in pain but here we have a Dr. Doolittle-type test that enables us to ‘talk’ to the animals…”

Hutchinson believes this test will be a cost-effective way for doctors to accurately determine the severity of chronic pain in patients. But humans will not be the only beneficiaries. According to Hutchinson, it also has the potential to revolutionize pain treatment for animals.

“Animals can’t tell us if they’re in pain but here we have a Dr. Doolittle-type 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,” said Hutchinson.

The new test could be widely available for use by pain management specialists and general practitioners in as little as 18 months.

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