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Photo: Managing Life
For anyone who’s ever suffered from chronic pain, you know how exhausting can be the search for relief. Perhaps the biggest frustration is trying to relay your symptoms to your doctor in a convincing and comprehensive way. While saying, “It hurts all the time” may be true, it doesn’t give your doctor very much information to go on.
That’s where technology can help. Apps like Manage My Pain are trying to make it easier to track and analyze your symptoms so that you have a fuller picture of health for yourself and your doctor. Manage My Pain isn’t new – it was launched in 2011 but was only compatible with Android devices. Since then, it has done a complete revamp to be compatible with iOS, and in January 2019, the app officially launched on the Apple App Store. It’s now competing with other apps like Chronic Pain Tracker and mySymptoms, which also help track pain indicators. The Toronto-based company, however, has removed the bells and whistles to take a simple yet effective approach to monitoring pain.
Manage My Pain focuses on its core competency: tracking pain. For those of you who like to monitor everything in your life, from your heart rate to your sleeping patterns to your steps, Manage My Pain may not be for you. That’s because it tracks just one thing. A simple slider on the main screen (in fact, it’s the only thing on the screen) lets you rank your pain on a scale of one to ten – one for no pain and ten for the worst pain ever. On the next tab, you can go a few levels deeper, entering in information about the location of pain on your body, your environment, alleviating or aggravating factors, and any activities you’ve done, but it all comes back to tracking pain. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive tool to evaluate your overall health. For those who are tired of overly complicated tracking apps that collect more data than you knew you had, the simple scale in Manage My Pain could be a welcome relief. It only takes 30 seconds out of your day and in the busy world we now live in, who wants to spend more than that entering information into an app?
Beyond just tracking, Manage My Pain helps you better understand your body. The major selling point of Manage My Pain (and yes, it’s not entirely free) are the insights, charts and records it provides to you that take an in-depth look at what you’re experiencing. Chronic pain sufferers can often feel alone, moving from doctor to doctor in the search for someone who can not only help with treatment, but who will take them and their suffering seriously to begin with. Through its own analysis, Manage My Pain offers you insights on pain patterns that could help you better understand your suffering.
It provides practical tools that can help in the offline world. Once you’ve entered in enough information for the app to piece together, it creates customized reports that you can print out and take directly to your doctor. No more fumbling around trying to describe your symptoms. No more answering your doctor’s questions with vague estimates of what you were feeling and when. Through clear and comprehensive reporting, you will finally have an accurate representation of your pain to present to your doctor. Communicating symptoms clearly to your doctor is one of the first steps to finding the right treatment.
It helps you track the effects of your medication. Chronic pain means that the pain doesn’t go away. That’s why sufferers are often keen to try new treatments and the latest medications to find relief. Keeping track of how each medication is affecting you is crucial but not always easy. Manage My Pain provides for that. With a database of over 6,000 medications, you can enter what you’re taking and when. This information is then cross-referenced with your symptoms to help see if the medications are having any impact, either good or bad. Not only does this help with your own understanding of your symptoms, but the information is captured in the reports for your doctor, allowing him or her to better understand what works for you. The app’s timeline or calendar view is a helpful visual representation of this.
Manage My Pain isn’t entirely free. While you can download and use its basic pain tracking features at no cost, access to some of the app’s more advanced features requires you to purchase a subscription plan or credits. For instance, if you want to see your data displayed in the timeline format, you must buy credits. Five credits are currently priced at $5.49. While the extra features are nice, the free version of the app still makes it a worthwhile addition to your chronic pain treatment plan.
When it comes to managing chronic pain, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It takes time, understanding and a lot of data to piece together both cause and solution. Manage My Pain is a no frills app that does just that. It may not offer you the fancy options of other apps, but if you want a simple tracking tool that can help provide a fuller picture of health for you and your doctor, this is it.