Pfizer has launched an online forum called The Pain Exchange, which has been designed to encourage conversations between people suffering from chronic pain.
Similar to Twitter, the descriptions should be 140 characters or less and can be rated on a pain severity scale. In addition, users are asked questions, such as age, gender, medical diagnosis etc, which will be compiled to help create a user generated database of chronic pain experiences.
One of the aims of the project is to enable people to better communicate their symptoms, by learning how others describe their pain, which should subsequently help GPs to diagnose and treat the condition during consultations.
"GPs rely on patients to describe their chronic pain so that the correct diagnosis can be made, but the subjective nature of pain and the patient challenges in accurately describing their symptoms mean that GPs find it hard to define, measure and accurately diagnose chronic pain", said Dr Roger Henderson, GP and Pain Exchange supporter.
"To add to the pressure on GPs, there is only one pain specialist per 32,000 sufferers in the UK to support the work of primary care. This increased pressure demonstrates the need for GPs to understand chronic pain and how to effectively and efficiently manage and treat patients at the point of consultation", he added.
The launch of the website is part of the Pfizer-funded European health awareness campaign Can you feel my pain, which includes a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a Flickr album.
To mark the launch of the site an event was staged on London's South Bank called The Pain Exchange Buzz Wire Challenge. Set up by Red Door Communications, the event saw participants attempting to navigate a large buzz wire in the shape of the word pain.