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Six million people in Canada live with some form of chronic pain, according to recent estimates by Statistics Canada. Long-term chronic pain can be complex, and the causes varied – including inflammation, injury, an underlying medical condition such as cancer. Other times, there may be no defining cause, such as in the case of fibromyalgia or chronic headaches.

“A pain diary can provide insight into the type, quality, intensity and the location of pain.”

As well as keeping an accurate record when our memory fails, “A pain diary can provide insight into the type, quality, intensity and the location of pain,” says Dr. Michael Boucher, medical director of Burlington Pain Care in Burlington, ON. “By journalling, certain clues may help minimize pain symptoms through making alterations in lifestyle and personal habits.”

To effectively treat long-term pain, your healthcare provider needs to know how acute or chronic the pain has been between visits. “A well-documented pain diary can assist clinicians develop appropriate management strategies,” explains Dr. Boucher. In reviewing your pain diary, healthcare providers can often identify patterns, triggers, stressors or mood changes. “Therapeutic options can then be better directed at improving function and mitigate flare-ups,” he adds.

While Canadians can use paper and pen, here are six apps to help you easily track pain levels and produce reports which can be shared with your healthcare provider.

1. Manage My Pain
Green Shield Canada recently partnered with Toronto-based start-up ManagingLife to create this free app. The app is designed so you can track pain levels just 30 seconds each day, analyze the data using graphs and charts to look for patterns and trends. Users can analyze their data on a graph or chart to look for patterns and trends, as well as share a report with their health care provider to improve pain management. Manage My Pain is customizable and prompts users once a day to record pain levels. Users can also track the dosage and effectiveness of their medication. The app works across multiple devises and information is stored on The Cloud. The app uses drawings to capture where in your body you feel pain, graphs to chart the intensity and track the time of occurrence.

Available on Google Play.
Two versions available.
Manage My Pain Lite is free to download. Manage My Pain Pro costs $4.99.
Visit ManagingLife for more information.

2. Catch My Pain
With Catch My Pain, users draw the location and intensity of any pain on a body diagram for a visual image of their pain. Other features of the free app include recording stress levels, mood (such as happiness), and record medication. Catch My Pain creates a graph, which can be shared with your doctor, or exported to share with others, such as a caregiver. This app also offers a community feature, where you can interact with other users, share experiences and get support. Users are also contributing to research into the treatment and causes of pain, as the app’s data is studying anonymously by doctors and researchers.

Available on Google Play
Free to download.
Visit Catch My Pain for more information.

3. My Pain Diary & Symptom Tracker Gold Edition
This award-winning app tracks chronic pain and pain triggers to create a detailed report that can be shared with your health care provider. The app can be tailored to suit the users’ needs, with the ability to track unlimited conditions or symptoms, such as location of pain, pain type, fatigue levels, even how much coffee you had that day. My Pain Diary automatically saves weather data, so you can see if conditions such as barometric pressure or humidity trigger pain levels. The app has an interactive graph and colour-coded calendar, to detect trends and patterns. Users can also upload photos, share reports with their doctor, as well as flag an entry as “private.” The app is password protected and information can be backed up to Dropbox.

Available on iTunes.
Cost $4.99.
Visit My Pain Diary for more information.

4. Pain Squad
SickKids in Toronto understand it’s not just adults who might need to track pain levels. The children’s hospital wanted to find a fun and easy way to encourage young cancer patients to complete a pain diary. Designed for youth aged eight to 18 to track pain related to cancer, Pain Squad tracks pain levels twice a day – once in the morning and again at night. The easy-to-use app allows users track where it hurts by marking a body drawing on the app, as well as track what’s causing their pain. The information can be used to see what makes pain better or worse and pain charts can be printed and shared with their doctor. To encourage young users, Pain Squad offers rewards for pain updates.

Available in iTunes.
Free of charge.
Visit the app on iTunes for more information

5. PainScale
Created with the input of doctors, PainScale lets users track chronic pain, neck and back pain, as well as pain related to fibromyalgia, migraines and arthritis. PainScale is set up to track symptoms, activity, mood, sleep and medications. The app also connects users to a larger community, where you can share treatment information. An added bonus, PainScale offers daily health tips through articles, health tips and exercises to help users improve their quality of life.

Available on iTunes and Google Play.
App is free of charge.
For more information, visit PainScale.

6. PainQuILT
PainQuILT is a new tracking tool for people living with chronic pain and for their health care providers. The app evolved through research at McMaster University and University of Toronto, in collaboration with clinicians and patients. Using simple icons, the app tracks the quality, intensity and location of pain over time, which is then mapped on a virtual body to show its location. Users can also track mood, ability to walk, sleep and enjoyment of life. The app can be used on computer, tablet or smartphone.

App is free of charge.
Visit PainQuILT for more information.