According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis and related diseases affect about 55 million adults in the United States or more than 1 of 4. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. and one of the most common chronic conditions in the nation.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout.
All of these forms have a different cause, such as degeneration of joints, autoimmune disease, or inflammation. They also cause pain in different ways, but they still have one thing in common. That pain is chronic, and often debilitating and life-changing.
One of the most frustrating things of living with arthritis and related pain is their unpredictable nature. There are days you'd feel great, and the others when the pain would so unbearable that you won't be able to do any of your daily activities. Knowing what makes the symptoms worse is important when you live with a chronic condition.
This is why keeping track of symptoms, activities, triggers, and treatment is recommended if you're suffering from any form of arthritis. It could help you identify patterns and triggers and predict pain. A simple symptom diary could be a convenient solution for this, especially if you use it on your mobile device.
The Arthritis Foundation developed TRACK + REACT app for people who live with one of the forms of arthritis, with a goal to help them identify the patterns between their activities and their arthritis symptoms in order to better control and manage their condition.
Upon opening the app for the first time, the users would be required to log in to their account or register one if they don't have it.
The registration can be done in the app by providing basic information, such as name, email, and password. Users also need to indicate if they have arthritis, and if so, which type.
There are 100 types of arthritis to choose from, including the most common types mentioned above, as well as other common and less common causes and conditions, such as amyloidosis, bursitis, Crohn's disease, vasculitis, juvenile arthritis, lupus, and more.
After completing registration/login, the app will take you to the Track page that is basically a welcome page introducing you to the app and its main features.
Basically, TRACK + REACT works like any other tracker app, allowing users to keep track of their nutrition, fitness, sleep, medications, day (stress, social interaction, etc.), and symptoms, and see if some of these activities are responsible for causing your arthritis pain to flare up.
In Nutrition section, you can add how many cups of fruits and vegetables you ate today, as well as other nutrients (in mg and oz), such as calcium, whole grains, and protein.
Users can also add the daily intake of sodium, fat, and calories, but there are no numerical values assigned to these categories. Instead, users need to select one of the choices, from Poor to Excellent to describe how satisfied they are with the particular nutrient intake, which, honestly, isn't the best solution for this.
In Fitness category, users can set a number of minutes they spent performing aerobic activities, strength training, flexibility routine, and balance movies, and view their progress (percentage of weekly goals).
Sleep category allows users to record sleep duration, ability to fall and stay asleep and feeling after waking up. The app uses qualitative assessment for sleep duration instead of quantitative, so you won't be able to enter how many actual hours of sleep you had, just to indicate if it was Poor, Fair, or Good. Again, this isn't how sleep tracking works. It would be better if users can add hours.
Users can track their medication use and their side effects in Medication section. It doesn't provide medication database, so there's no search, meaning that you'd have to add your medications manually.
Also, there is no option to add strength, dosage, instructions on how to use the medications, so you'd have to add to add them manually too. Basically, just type in the name of your medication, and then add instructions from the prescription in the text box below the medication name. Again, another inconvenient feature.
After entering all your medications, you'd see Yes and No buttons, allowing you to indicate if you took your meds as instructed and if you've experienced any side effects.
You can add your moods throughout the day, by adding stress levels, social interaction, activity-rest balance, and how overall your day was.
Finally, you can indicate daily symptoms by choosing one number on a scale from 0 to 10 for Pain, Stiffness, and Fatigue, or on a scale from Very Good to Very Poor for Mood and Joint Function.
All categories allow users to add additional notes about the particular day, entry, symptoms, flare-ups, and so on.
After completing all entries, you'd be able to see them in Results tab in a form of graph that shows your results for 7 days, 7 weeks, or 7 months. The app would give you rewards (stars) for meeting the tracking goals.
You can set/edit these goals (particularly fitness) in the Profile section. The app allows you to set custom goals, but once they've been set, I couldn't find them in the app. So, this is a useful feature for now.
Overall, TRACK + REACT app is a neat little tracker, but I honestly expected more. For example, there's no difference in the app interface and features based on the type of arthritis you chose.
Also, the app uses qualitative assessment in places where numeric values would be a better choice (sleep duration and nutrients).
There's no database of at least those medications commonly used to treat arthritis pain that would make medication entries easier.
Setting custom goals is pointless because these goals you set don't show anywhere in the app.
TRACK + REACT app is a solid effort, particularly because it's free, however, it requires a rework that would hopefully be delivered in one of the future updates.
Benefit: The app is designed for people who have one of the types of arthritis, helping them track activities, nutrition, and symptoms