home
RSS
Researchers closer to developing a ‘pain-o-meter’
September 13th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Researchers closer to developing a ‘pain-o-meter’

Your arm hurts, but it's difficult for someone else to say just how much it really hurts. Scientists have been searching for a way to measure pain and new research suggests they are getting closer.

Researchers at Stanford University trained a computer algorithm to interpret magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of the brain and determine the presence of pain, according to a new study published Tuesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers applied heat directly to the forearms of 8 study participants.  The subjects  reported a pain score of 7 out of 10 pain, when the temperature their skin was exposed to reached about 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the participants were undergoing this heat exposure, MRI scanners tracked their brain activity.  Then the computer compared data when participants were undergoing MRIs without experiencing any pain.

The computer algorithms effectively learned how to recognize the difference between pain and non-pain in the human brain.

When presented with additional sets of brain scans from sixteen new participants, the computer algorithm correctly identified about 80% of the time which brains were experiencing pain, and which were not.

Researchers have long known that pain registers on MRI scans, but having a computer algorithm positively predict the difference between a brain with pain and a brain without pain is new ground.

"I had been convinced for many years that the very subjective nature of pain would preclude it from being able to characterize a pattern of brain activity that would extend across other individuals to discriminate pain or not pain," says Dr. Sean Makey, a senior author of the study. "I was really surprised to see that you could."

The researchers behind this study have already started another, similar study, and with a larger number of participants.

The technology seems to work in a controlled laboratory setting, but in real-world situations there are lots of complicating factors. For example, other types of pain in other parts of the body may register differently, and this study does not attempt to measure varying degrees of pain. And those suffering from chronic pain would not be able to provide a baseline pain-free brain scan for comparison.

"I'm hoping that we will see this technology as an objective biomarker of treatment responsiveness for clinical trials when testing a particular therapy or drug," says Makey. "This will augment the patient's recorded pain, and give us a more objective measure of how we're actually impacting their pain and their pain system."


soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. TF14901

    So, what do you do when you have someone with Autism who won't be able to hold still for an MRI?

    September 14, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KateB

      Usually children or patients who cannot hold still are sedated/twilight sedation.

      September 15, 2011 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
  2. michael

    Quick !! Get this equipment to the pill mills & pain clinics in South Florida for human trials........Next thing you know the the Doctor's and their drug addicted patients will find a way to get that paid for with our tax money only to find out that everyone suffers from some level of pain all the time everyday.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wave

      Not everyone suffers pain. I am a pain patient and I am not addicted to pain meds. You are an ass Michael!

      September 14, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
  3. kim

    Oh great, just what we need! More ways for doctors to arrogantly dismiss their patients and to tell us that we aren't really hurting when we are! I've no doubt that doctors and insurance companies will use this against the patients, not to help them.

    September 14, 2011 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jimmy Crack Corn

    The more hi-tech medical equipment is used on you the more expensive your medical bill will be. No thank you pain-o-meter, I'd rather stick with the old fashion "This hurts!" But of course your Doc will find an excuse to use it anyway.

    September 14, 2011 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Every modern medical advance is initially expensive. So I guess you don't accept the results of any medical research at all?

      September 14, 2011 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
    • 85fr15

      JeramieH – Medical technology and advancement is expensive and stays expensive...many times that is the problem. Things in the medical field rarely drop in price as they do in the consumer world. Remember how expensive calculators originally were? How about BETA or VHS recorders? Calculators? How about new technology TV's? All had there peak in pricing and eventually came down in price after a period of extended development. On the other hand, anything in the medical field as in the insurance industry always finds a way to stay expensive. I am all for R/D but it's the inflated costs after the R/D which remain high well after the technology is is place.

      September 15, 2011 at 07:55 | Report abuse |
  5. Winky

    Ok, if I put that meter in my rear-end, would that tell me how much I bother people ?

    September 15, 2011 at 05:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Chronic Pain sufferer

    I'm a pain patient for 30+ years and have never abused my pain meds. I take 160mg oxycontin twice a day and 60mg of methadone twice a day, this has been the same doses for 13 years. I don't get high from these meds due to all the pain I have.
    I've had 12 major back surgeries and have a 16 lead spinal cord stimulator implant. All from an infection in my epidural space from S1 through T10, it left the dural sac that contains the spinal cord extremely scared. I don't have much soft tissue around my nerves, it's more like sandpaper. They also terminated all my facet nerves, both sides from T10 through S1 because the pain couldn't be controlled with drugs. My pain increases dramaticly with activity, so a MRI to measure me for pain levels wouldn't work just lying still. Most of the pain patients I'm around pains increase drasticly with activity, so much for being still for a MRI. This article seems to be more for simple pain injuries, not for medical nightmares like myself.

    September 16, 2011 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. CheerfulHeart

    When "it hurts" leads to someone becoming unable to work, it would be nice to have a meter that confirms this. I describe my fibromyalgia pain and fatigue as being the same as one experiences with severe influenza. When people have the flu they can't work until they feel better. Chronic pain patients never feel better. Imagine the ultimate savings in insurance fraud, disability claims and other taxpayer supported assistance if there was a meter to determine if a patient is lying or exaggerating? Many claimants do, and many chronic pain sufferers are accused of this. A pain meter would remove all doubt.

    September 16, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. pmk1953

    If I ever woke up in the morning and nothing hurt, I'd have to buy a newspaper so I could check if my name was in the obituaries. Arthritis gives you that outlook.

    September 16, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sheldon

    No matter if some one searches for his vital thing,
    thus he/she wishes to be available that in detail,
    thus that thing is maintained over here.

    Feel free to surf to my page ... google

    December 25, 2020 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kaylene

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to
    say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1
    or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

    Also visit my blog ... precios detectives privados

    January 10, 2021 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rv shower head shut off valve

    Hi colleagues, its impressive paragraph on the topic of teachingand entirely explained, keep it up all the time.

    Feel free to surf to my web blog – rv shower head shut off valve

    January 13, 2021 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 918kiss

    Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!

    my site; 918kiss

    January 14, 2021 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. NaijaVibe

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with helpful info to work on. You have
    performed an impressive activity and our entire group shall be
    grateful to you.

    Feel free to visit my site ... NaijaVibe

    January 22, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sublimation Polo Shirts Suppliers

    Thanks in support of sharing such a fastidious thought, paragraph is good,
    thats why i have read it completely

    my page :: Sublimation Polo Shirts Suppliers

    January 23, 2021 at 01:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Custom Polo Shirt Supplier Finland

    Hi there to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more from this
    website, and your views are good in favor of new users.

    Look at my blog; Custom Polo Shirt Supplier Finland

    January 24, 2021 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Spokane tattoo shop

    Excellent blog right here! Also your web site rather a lot up fast!
    What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate link in your host?
    I want my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    Feel free to surf to my page: Spokane tattoo shop

    January 25, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 30workouts

    My brother recommended I might like this website. He was entirely right.
    This post actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for
    this information! Thanks!

    my site 30workouts

    January 27, 2021 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. restaurant manager jobs

    I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to
    get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I'm not very web smart so I'm not 100% sure. Any
    recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Appreciate it

    my site :: restaurant manager jobs

    January 28, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. just for pets

    Thanks very nice blog!

    Here is my page: just for pets

    February 4, 2021 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. cbd oil capsules

    Greetings from Los angeles! I'm bored to death at work so I decided to check out
    your site on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you present here and can't wait to take a look when I
    get home. I'm shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing site!

    my web site cbd oil capsules

    February 4, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. purecbd

    It's an amazing paragraph designed for all the web people; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.

    Review my blog post ... purecbd

    February 4, 2021 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. cbd massage oil

    We stumbled over here different web page and thought I might check things
    out. I like what I see so i am just following you.

    Look forward to checking out your web page again.

    Feel free to surf to my site; cbd massage oil

    February 4, 2021 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. [2021] GOPLAY Rabatt

    Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thanks
    once again.

    My web-site ... [2021] GOPLAY Rabatt

    February 6, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. shein.com coupon code

    What i don't realize is in reality how you are no longer really much
    more well-appreciated than you may be now. You are very intelligent.
    You already know therefore considerably on the subject of this matter, made me in my opinion imagine it from numerous numerous angles.

    Its like men and women aren't fascinated until it's one thing to do with
    Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. At all times maintain it up!

    Feel free to surf to my web-site – shein.com coupon code

    February 6, 2021 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. refurbished servers dell

    When some one searches for his essential thing, thus he/she desires to be available that in detail,
    so that thing is maintained over here.

    Also visit my web-site; refurbished servers dell

    February 7, 2021 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. seagate external hard drive not working

    bookmarked!!, I really like your site!

    Feel free to surf to my web site – seagate external hard drive not working

    February 7, 2021 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. sizegenetics review

    Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I
    was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for
    my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

    Here is my web blog sizegenetics review

    February 8, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. shein.com coupon code

    This paragraph will assist the internet visitors for
    creating new website or even a blog from start to
    end.

    Review my site: shein.com coupon code

    February 11, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Buy Norditropin Pens Online

    Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It's on a
    entirely different topic but it has pretty much the
    same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

    my web blog Buy Norditropin Pens Online

    February 27, 2021 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Buy Norditropin Pens Online

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues
    of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of completely
    unique content I've either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over
    the web without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help protect against content from being ripped off?
    I'd genuinely appreciate it.

    Also visit my web blog – Buy Norditropin Pens Online

    February 27, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Vicente Yerty

    Keep functioning ,fantastic job!

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    March 6, 2021 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. vardenafil vs viagra vs cialis

    vardenafil dosage instructions https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil nortwest pharmacy

    April 12, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. alprostadil cost

    who presctibes transurethral alprostadil and alprostadil-prazosin https://alprostadildrugs.com/ erection injection medication

    April 14, 2021 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. zithromax pills

    generic for zithromax https://zithromaxes.com/ zed herb products

    April 17, 2021 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply

Leave a Reply to 30workouts


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.