Has a doctor ever shown you that paper of faces, ranked 1 to 10, and asked you to indicate how much pain you’re feeling?

Staring at those faces, it’s never quite clear which one you are. Even if you are in more pain than you can remember feeling in your life, it’s hard to pick the face at level 10. And you don’t want to pick level one, because why would the doctor care if you had pain at a level one?

Scientists are working on a way to measure pain more effectively using a functional magnetic resonance image (an fMRI) of the brain, according to a feature on pain treatment and science on Vox. Multiple studies were able to use the scan to determine when someone was feeling pain by looking at their brain activity, and for people with chronic pain, a scan of their brain structure was used to determine their pain in other studies.

What would it mean if we could objectively measure pain?

Doctors wouldn’t have to worry if their patients were lying about pain to get a narcotic pain killer prescription. People who can’t communicate, like babies or people in comas, would be able to be treated for pain.

But it could also mean that insurance agencies could use the information to deny you coverage of a pain-related treatment, or your application for disability could be denied based on your pain level.

Read the full story here.