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Can Doctors Objectively Quantify and Measure Pain? The Future of Pain Management.

November 18, 2022

By Dr. Frank Fornari, Chairman and Founder, BioMech Health

Millions of Americans live with acute and chronic pain that affects every aspect of their lives. Pain by itself is an important marker of how a patient is feeling and indicates what kind of medical intervention might be necessary.

The healthcare industry needs a clinically acceptable way to objectively measure pain and since pain is a very complex mixture of biochemistry and genetics and it’s unlikely that a laboratory test that directly quantifies pain will be developed.

Doctors have been using questionnaires and subjective responses including, the answer to the popular question, ‘What is your pain on a scale of 0 to 10?’ Unfortunately, each person’s pain tolerance and perception is different. Responses can be exaggerated or underplayed, pain can vary in how it is experienced or the conditions it is caused by…not to mention, adults and children can experience pain differently. It’s ultimately up to the clinician to determine the level of pain. To further complicate the pathology, clinicians may treat pain differently when it is a symptom versus when it becomes the primary pathology. One clinically actionable solution is to indirectly quantify the effects of pain using motion as a functional biomarker.

There is no question that a multidiagnostic strategy is always the best when applied to any disease. Healthcare professionals have now found that assessing a patient’s functional movements including balance, gait, and range of motion are more important than a subjective pain-based response alone. New tools have made it possible to use motion as a functional biomarker and endpoint for many treatments where pain is involved. The ability to assess sudden or gradual changes in movement can be a vital factor in the early diagnosis, treatment, and management of a wide number of painful health issues.

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