Using Technology to Improve Your Quality of Life: Apps for Arthritis and Chronic Pain

Patient Expert

One of the most frustrating aspects of living with RA and chronic pain is the unpredictable nature of these conditions. Keeping track of your symptoms, activities, triggers and treatment can help you identify patterns. Knowing what makes your symptoms worse or better is important when you live with a chronic condition. I often recommend to our users that they keep a symptom diary to identify patterns between activity and symptoms, but the traditional paper and pen approach can be a bit of a hassle. Recently, two apps have been released that aim to help you easily track what's going on in your body as it happens throughout the day.


Track+React was developed by The Arthritis Foundation specifically for people who live with one of the 100 different types of arthritis. It aims to help you identify the connections between what you do and how you feel. Identifying patterns between your activities in your symptoms can help you feel more in control and manage your arthritis better.

You use this app to record your activities in a number of different areas such as nutrition, sleep, medications and emotional well-being. The Results feature will graph the relationship between what you do and how you feel, giving you feedback on how your symptoms change and respond to what you do each day. This can help you change your activities to improve your health and well-being. You can also print out the results to share with your doctor. This could be an effective tool to identify the need for potential changes in treatment to help you get better. "This graph supports effective self-management and encourages effective communication with physicians, all factors proven to improve overall wellbeing and health care," says Cindy McDaniel, Vice President, Consumer Health with The Arthritis Foundation.

Track+React is with you throughout the day, enabling you to record symptoms and activities as they happen. The interface is a simple click or slide, making it easy for sore hands to use.

Track+React is free and available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

WebMD Pain Coachâ„¢

WebMD developed Pain Coachâ„¢to help the over 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain to manage their symptoms. It recognizes that many people live with more than one condition that causes chronic pain, such as migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, nerve pain and back pain.

This app can be used for multiple conditions, tracking symptoms, triggers, treatments and goals. By recording these aspects of your life, you will be able to track the impact of different activities and treatments on in your pain levels. The app can also prepare a report of your results that you can share with your doctor. "We recently conducted a Medscape from WebMD survey of physicians who treat chronic pain patients and found that more than 90 percent said they would prefer if their patients had an easy way to track symptoms between visits," said Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor, WebMD.  "The WebMD Pain Coach app meets this need by providing patients with a free, portable app that is customized for their pain condition to help enhance their conversations with their doctor and make doctor visits more productive."

In addition to the personal journal that helps you keep track of your symptoms and what affect them, this app also includes other features. Pain Coachâ„¢ can help you set short-term and long-term goals and also offers tips to help you meet those goals. There's also a library containing WebMD content for your specific condition.

Pain Coachâ„¢ is free and available for iPhone and iPad.

Technology has become an important tool in improving the care you receive from your medical team, as well as helping you manage day-to-day living with chronic conditions. Apps like Track+React and Pain Coachâ„¢ can be excellent partners in helping you live well with arthritis and chronic pain. Tracking triggers and symptoms as you experience them throughout the day will help you identify patterns. Being able to predict what intensifies or decreases your symptoms can help you change behaviors and treatments and ultimately improve your quality of life.

How do you use technology to better manage your condition? Do you know of any other apps that might be helpful for our community?

September is Pain Awareness Month. Many HealthCentral writers are posting about issues related to living with pain and pain management.

Lene is the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View.