It is estimated that one out of five adults suffers from chronic pain, and half of those patients have been suffering for more than seven years.
Chronic pain can severely affect the quality of life, mostly because of its complexity. This means that over the time, the intensity of pain may vary, it can move or expand to different locations of the body, the pain could be increased by various triggers, or the things you do to soothe the pain might not work all the time. All this explains how difficult it can be to diagnose and treat chronic pain and live with it.
People who suffer from chronic pain are often advised to track their pain because tracking is a good way to predict flare-ups or to pinpoint triggers that cause them.
Luckily, we're not living in a 'pen-and-paper' period anymore. Recording all our activities that can affect our chronic pain is a much easier thanks to the technology, particularly mobile apps covering the range of purposes, from trackers to medication reminders.
Some of these apps offer multiple purposes and functions, such as CatchMyPain app, which works as a pain diary, a discussion community for people with chronic pain, and medication tracker and reminder.
The app is available on Android and iOS devices for free, although offering limited features that can be unlocked by several in-app purchases.
Upon opening the app, the users are guided through a quick tutorial on how to use the app, i.e. create the 'pain entry,' before they're taken to the Home page.
The home page features six icons. Top three are reserved for pain diary/tracker, while the bottom three include medication tracker, community, and option to share the app/invite friends to view your entries.
Tracking the pain is the main feature of this app. It focuses on the location of the pain, allowing users to draw the pain on a figure displayed on the screen.
Users are first asked to describe the pain intensity by choosing one of the pencil icons that vary in color, from yellow for a mild pain to deep red for unbearable pain.
After choosing the pain level, a female figure would be displayed on the screen, allowing users to draw the pain using the pencil icon, or erase it and start again. Users can zoom in and move figure by using their fingers. Also, the figure can be rotated and seen from the sides, or from the back.
Although the quick tutorial showed that figure can be switched from male to female, and vice versa, by tapping on the male/female symbol above the figure, there's actually no such option in the app, so I couldn't choose a male figure. But, since the app isn't intended to provide any diagnostic or treatment recommendation for gender/sex related conditions, this wasn't a big deal.
Once you've added the location, you can add time frame, pain intensity (again?) on not so responsive slider, and describe your pain from the list of descriptions, ranging from agonizing and dull, to throbbing and wavelike.
Here users can also add moods describing how they feel, however, this option is locked in the free version and requires the in-app purchase for $2.99. Too much money to be able only to add emoticons, if you ask me.
Next option in the tracker is checking weather data for your location. But, in the free version, you'd only be able to see temperature, while cloud coverage, humidity, the wind, precipitation, and other data is locked until you purchase it for $2.99.
Knowing that weather can affect and increase the pain, purchasing weather data may be worthwhile. Better than a bunch of smileys anyway.
The final step in adding new pain entry is writing a comment, where you can note about your situation or the entry itself.
All pain entries you've added would be accessible via Pain Entries section on the Home page, providing a summary of each entry, along with four figures. I know it's easier to implement it that way, but it is redundant. For example, if the user has drawn a pain on the back of the figure, then why showing front and side views?
Once you have at least three pain entries, the app would generate the pain chart (after a couple of hours), where you would be able to see the course of your pain.
CatchMyPain app can be used as medication tracker as well. Go to My Meds section and tap on Add drug button. The app would offer to import tow drug databases (The USA or Switzerland) or you can add drugs manually (without database).
Importing US database took less than a minute, and I was able to either scan a barcode from the medication package (using phone camera) or use the search function, which has the autocomplete (not the fastest, but gets the work done), which populates the list as you type.
To add the drug, simply tap on the entry in the list and state if you're taking it occasionally (would require you to add drugs each time you take it) or recurring.
If it's recurring taking, you can set daily and weekly reminders, however, only if you purchase this option for $0.99. While it's convenient to have medication tracker and reminder all-in-one, there is a lot of apps that can do this for free. You can check some of them in the patient's guide to finding good medication reminder apps that we wrote a while ago.
The highlight feature of CatchMyPain app is the discussion community, which is missing from other similar apps. There, users can discuss their pain, goals, and treatment with other users, and provide tips and support to each other. Community forums seem to be quite active and moderated to keep comments on topic and respectful.
Another nice thing is the ability to create your own personal pain profile, by providing basic information about yourself and your pain, as well as you diagnoses (the app uses ICD-10 classification standard).
Units in the app are in the Metric system by default, but you can convert them to Imperial in the settings.
Overall, CatchMyPain app is solid pocket pain diary and medication tracker that also offers community support to people who suffer from chronic pain. There's a room for improvement tho, particularly regarding the interface and some in-app purchases that aren't justified or worth the money.
Benefit: People with chronic pain who want to track their pain and medications, as well as get support from fellow chronic-pain-sufferers would benefit from this app