The Revolutionary New Blood Test That Could Identify the Cause of Your Chronic Pain

With over 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, it’s safe to say it affects countless people’s everyday lives. And not only can dealing with daily aches and pains make having an active social and professional life difficult, but you run the risk of getting addicted to opioids if you choose to treat it with prescription painkillers.

Imagine being able to pinpoint the cause of your chronic pain so you could treat it. Thanks to a revolutionary new test, that day may be coming very soon (see page 5 for the test’s expected release date).

The new blood test

Blood test tubes.

Vials of blood | Bet_Noire/iStock/Getty Images

Recently, a blood test that can objectively identify chronic pain was developed by a team of Australian researchers. This is exciting for doctors as well as patients since it gives them a window into their patients’ pain and allows them to be more certain about a diagnosis.

Next: Here’s how this revolutionary test works.

Does pain have a color?

Pretty girl transfusing her blood

Woman getting her blood drawn | shironosov/Getty Images

The new blood test, which is called painHS, can reportedly identify color changes in immune cells affected by chronic pain. In theory, this will give doctors a new way to diagnose the severity of the pain, especially in patients who aren’t able to effectively communicate it.

Neuroscientist Mark Hutchinson, who is leading the study, explains, “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.”

Next: Future pain medication might look entirely different. 

Pinpointing the pain

Young Asian woman got back pain

Woman in pain | iStock.com/halfbottle

Along with offering a new biomarker for the presence of pain, this research suggests the immune cells might actually play a substantial role in modulating the sensation of chronic pain. This means that, in the future, new drugs that suppress the immune pain response might be developed instead of using drugs that simply target the nervous system.

Next: Here’s the real reason a test like this is so exciting.

We may be able to help animals and children with their pain, too

Pills in bottle

Diagnosis and medication may become easier. | Luchschen/iStock/Getty Images

As exciting as it is to possibly develop safer and more effective pain medication, Hutchinson says the broader implications of the blood test are even better. He hopes it could help doctors diagnose pain in those who can’t always communicate their discomfort, from babies to older sufferers of dementia. The test may even be applicable to animals one day.

Next: When might we see this test on the market?

A potential release date

calendar

This is when you can expect the test to be released. | Kwangmoozaa/iStock/Getty Images

PainHS is still in its developmental phase, but the researchers are hoping to get it ready for broad clinical use within the next 18 months. The new test was revealed at the Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) conference in Sydney in early May, and Hutchinson remains hopeful that it will be ready for the public very soon.

Next: This could revolutionize the way we treat chronic pain. 

Treating chronic pain in the future

Feeling pain

Woman in pain | Andrey Popov/iStock/Getty Images

Currently, chronic pain is treated in a variety of ways, most commonly with pain medications that are taken orally or applied to the skin. But since researchers now know there is a peripheral cell signal, new types of drugs for new types of cellular therapies may be designed. Considering how bad the opioid crisis has gotten, this could lead to better treatments for chronic pain in the future.

Next: Here are some natural remedies for treating chronic pain.

Can you treat chronic pain without medication?

Distressed woman

Woman in pain | V_Sot/iStock/Getty Images

Some conditions definitely require medication to control, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help treat it naturally. Certain foods, like ginger and tart cherries, have been shown to help manage everyday aches and pains. Other foods, like processed meats and dairy, can actually make your physical pain worse.

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