Let’s discuss how blood tests work, what they are currently used for, and how we can use them to advance the future of measuring pain. This would give us the ability to: track the progression of pain over time, prescribe the correct treatment, control opioid abuse, detect levels of pain in non-verbal situations, and understand chronic pain. Let’s discuss some options as far as prototypes out there and what direction would be best for the future of medicine. 

How Blood Tests Work

Blood tests are one of the most common types of diagnostic testing used in the medical field. A blood test allows doctors to diagnose and treat dozens of conditions such as cholesterol levels, thyroid function, infections, diseases, and other conditions. Once your blood is drawn, it is then run through a series of tests. These tests will vary depending on the specifics your doctor is looking for. There are several factors that a doctor considers when ordering a blood test: age, medical history, family history, and lifestyle.

What are Blood Tests Used For

For decades we have been using blood tests to diagnose and treat different medical issues. Oftentimes a doctor will recommend a blood test or ask when your last blood draw was. Doctors can compare previous blood tests to track changes over time. This research allows them to catch and diagnose things like lung, kidney, and heart conditions earlier. Measuring pain through blood tests works in the same way. The more we learn from blood biometrics (color pigments) and how pain affects them.  The more we can implement change in how we rate pain and treat it.

Using Blood Tests to Measure Pain (Prototypes)

There are some prototypes out there using the principle of blood tests to measure pain. Each prototype is based on slightly different research and offers different insights on how we can move forward.

One example is a prototype called PainHS. PainHS is referred to as the “color of pain” project run by University of Adelaide Medical School (Australia) neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson. This is based on electromagnetic spectrum analysis that shows how pain changes the molecular structure of immune cells. This device is not meant to replace the current system in place. This means the current system of rating your pain on a scale of 0-10 would still be practiced in the medical field. PainHS would simply be providing a new measure on pain levels. 

At the Indiana University School of Medicine, researchers are working on a test. The biomarkers in the blood become ‘fingerprints’ that run through a database and are matched to the compounds that would normalize that specific signature in the blood. They then can separate certain biometrics in the blood. Create a database of what is normal vs. abnormal. Run the biometrics through the database and ideally have enough research to allow the database to detect the pain issues and suggest the correct and/or most effective medicine or treatment. 

Both of these cases are a testament to how important this issue is and how close we are to finding a solution. The issue lies with the current way we structure healthcare. If we are going to change pain management, then let’s do it the right way. What better way to manage pain than ease of access and options. A device called PAD® takes this idea to the next level and does just that.

Why PAD® is Different

The PAD® takes one drop of blood (similar to a glucose monitor) with a test strip. It then measures the amount of inflammation (pain) in the blood sample and assigns a numeric value. Pain-free blood has different colors (biomarkers) than blood from those suffering from chronic pain. This device functions by using light to examine the electromagnetic spectrum of the image of an immune cell found in the blood. Then within 5-8 seconds, the device will display a number between 1-20 to represent a measurement of pain. This number can then be used to determine treatment, if necessary.

PAD® is different because it is a simple handheld device that is user-friendly, can work as a standalone unit or in conjunction with your smartphone. This device would be readily available in not only hospitals and clinics; but also homes. Imagine being able to track your health over time from the comfort of your home. We need to think big picture when it comes to the future of easily accessible healthcare at our fingertips.

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