In the world of health and medicine, “chronic pain” is a prevalent and all too real diagnosis for over 11% of Americans according to the National Health Institutes. What exactly is chronic pain? Any persistent pain that lasts several weeks to even years, often a result of dysfunctional nerves or inflammation.
While the U.S. tries to tackle an opioid epidemic that stems in part from pain management strategies which relied on prescription narcotics (i.e. hydrocodone, fentanyl, etc.), a growing body of evidence is showing that pain management and relief may be found in complementary health approaches. These include mindfulness practices like yoga and tai chi, acupuncture, massage, music therapy, spinal manipulation, electrical stimulation, and even hypnosis.
A critical step in pain management from a patient’s point of view is also found in tracking daily pain levels to help pinpoint triggers and prevent future flare-ups. When it comes to managing chronic pain, give these top apps and tech tools a try:
TENS UnitA TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit is a standalone device you can use from the comfort of your own home to combat acute and chronic pain. Completely portable and easy to use, a TENS Unit comes with a control box and electrodes which attach to pain points on your body. The device sends out safe, low-voltage electrical currents through the electrodes and into your tense muscles and spasming nerve endings, disrupting the pain signals being sent back to your brain and triggering endorphin (feel-good hormone) production.
Chronic Pain Tracker (iOS & Android)
Keep a digital pain diary with this handy app that lets you log a variety of pain metrics, including triggers, duration, onset speed, mental state, and intensity. With a scientific approach, the app aggregates your data and analyzes it through easy-to-read reports you can read and share with your doctor for a more comprehensive evaluation of your condition.
Headspace (iOS & Android)
As the practice of meditation continues to reveal its pain-fighting powers, apps like Headspace will prove to be a handy companion in managing chronic pain. Headspace acts as a personal meditation guide to help you make a habit of calming your mind, relaxing, meditating, and fighting off both pain and accompanying conditions including depression, stress, and insomnia.
Catch My Pain (iOS & Android)
This popular app not only helps you log daily pain, but connects you with a supportive community of fellow pain sufferers. In addition to drawing your pain on specially designed body models within the app, you can log symptoms of stress, fatigue, and more. You can also keep track of your medicine schedule and share your pain experience with similar patients.
FibroMapp (iOS & Android)
Record daily pain metrics (like pain severity and effect on personal mobility) with FibroMapp in addition to logging medicine intake and sleep schedules. This app, which targets complex pain users (i.e. patients with fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus, etc.) also generates data analysis reports to share with your doctors and care network.
My Pain Diary (iOS)
If your chronic pain is affected by changes in the weather, this app may be just the solution for tracking correlations between the two and possibly preventing flare-ups. My Pain Diary offers easy-to-use color-coded calendars, a searchable interface for quickly recalling past pain entries, and integrated data analysis incorporating weather patterns into printable reports.