Tracking our symptoms allows us to identify treatments or things we do that help or aggravate our pain. A pain-tracking app is a good way to gather such information, but before hitting that download button, there are things to consider. In this post, we will determine what we expect from an app and how we can use it to help us meet our needs efficiently and effectively.
The Purpose and Special Uses of an Application
I want to focus on the headache-tracking application I found more helpful than any other app I have tried. Having this app helped me understand the importance of having the right app.
Why do I like it? It collects an infinite amount of data and provides the information in easy to view charts and graphs. Data includes the type of headache, location, triggers, onset, duration, severity, and other associated symptoms. It also tracks my response to interventions, and allows me to customize data for things like additional triggers, co-existing conditions, specific medications or other treatments. The area to take notes is quite handy because I can document things like I lost my job, I relocated to another part of the country, or my cat ran away. These are all important considerations when choosing a symptom-tracking application.
While I have a good handle on my triggers, medications and other treatments, the visual comparisons make it easy to understand at a glance. Other data calculated includes things like headache days of the week, number of headaches, time of the day, months of the year, etc. For several months, I documented every detail including the customized data I added. It was helpful to see information this way and the best part is the ability to share reports easily. I sent my doctor a screen shot which was added to my medical record. It saved time, improved communication and helped identify trends. Having this information in my chart has helped me qualify for certain treatments. An app that collects the right information can help with other needs too, like documentation for FMLA, or workers compensation.
I don’t like focusing on pain, and getting my brain to function is difficult enough, so working frequently with the app did become overwhelming. So, I had to ask…
- “What am I going to do with this information?”
- “Is this data going to make a significant change in my life?”
I determined that the benefits of this app did outweigh the risks because I could decide what information is most important to me. In other words, I didn’t have to focus on things that were not changing, like the character of my pain. But, should it start to change, I have a way to track trends important to me.
Questions That Are Critical to Making a Decision
- Will the information identify things I can improve?
- What do I intend to do with the information I gather?
- Does the app allow me to take notes regarding other influences on pain, such as social interactions, dietary intake, physical activity, and mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.
- Will it allow me to customize elements, such as co-existing conditions, medications, sleep, or unusual triggers?
- Will the app allow me to enter only the information I want to track at any given time and not require me to complete one step before going to another?
- Can I identify trends related to interventions, medications, and therapies?
- Will I be able to track when my pain is better or worse, like days of the week, time of the day, or months of the year?
- Is the data entered reflected and calculated in an easy to understand graph or chart?
- Can I print or save the data elsewhere?
- Will it help my physician assess my needs?
- Will the data help my family and friends understand?
Tracking applications are generally not expensive. Good, or bad, they can have the same price tag, so I hope you will use the criteria I have found useful. Before hitting that download button, consider this…
Will this app help me improve communication with my healthcare provider, save time, and improve my outcome?
If you have information to share that will help others make their decision, please leave a comment. We learn from each other when we share.
Other helpful articles:
- Tracking Your RA Symptoms (Information that can be used for any chronic pain.)
- Improve Communication skills with Chronic Pain
Celeste Cooper / Author, Health Pro, Advocate
Think adversity?-See opportunity! http://CelesteCooper.com
Celeste Cooper, R.N., is a freelance writer focusing on chronic pain and fibromyalgia. She is lead author of Integrative therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and the Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain book series. She enjoys her family, writing and advocating, photography, and nature. Connect with Celeste through her website CelesteCooper.com, Twitter @FibroCFSWarrior, or follow her Facebook page.