Managing chronic pain has gotten less painful – or at least easier to keep track of. Born out Damon Lynn’s own painful experience, “My Pain Diary” is an iphone app designed specifically to help people track their pain. It’s one of several apps on the market that help chronic pain sufferers document their symptoms and treatment; not only for themselves but for health care providers who get detailed reports about their condition.
“The My Pain Diary app is easy to use and can be customized for whatever medical condition a user is experiencing,” says Lynn, who knows what he’s talking about. Lynn’s personal journey with chronic pain began in 2008, when he fell off of his snow-covered roof in Galena, Ohio and fractured his leg in two places. The injury led to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a nervous system disorder that has no known cure and usually gets worse with time. To help treat patients, doctors usually tell them to track their pain.
That is what lead Lynn to create My Pain Diary. After recovering from surgery, Lynn returned to work as a multimedia developer, but found that the need to constantly elevate his leg and take pain medications made it difficult to manage his job. “I figured my best shot was to fire up my computer and work on my own,” Lynn told American News Report.
Two months later, he launched My Pain Diary. Unfortunately, the app didn’t make enough money for Lynn to pay his bills. When offered a lucrative job with a pharmaceutical advertising agency, Lynn took it, but continued to develop his app in his spare time. Chronic pain continued for him as well.
It wasn’t long before he realized that the app was where he wanted to spend all of his time. He took out a loan, and focused on marketing and developing My Pain Diary.
Ease of use is Lynn’s biggest concern. He designed My Pain Diary specifically for people who are struggling with pain and on medications. “It’s hard for them to think clearly,” he explains. Once customized by the user, the app asks people to simply type in a few words. The app does the rest. “It aggregates data and graphs it out,” Lynn says. That allows patients and medical health professionals to see patterns of chronic pain, and helps users manage their conditions.
One of the most significant aspects of the app is that it changes communication between patients and their health care providers. “My Pain Diary can improve the quality of care,” Lynn says, “because it allows better communication between patients and doctors. It validates what patients tell their doctors.”
Doctors often tell chronic pain sufferers to track their pain, but that requires a pen and paper available at all times; along with an ability to write down when and where it hurts, what day and time it is, the weather, the level of pain, and what the patient is doing. Even if a patient is capable of doing all of that, the end result is a journal full of data that a doctor must read through and evaluate.
Lynn says the My Pain Diary is easy and fun to use if you have an iphone, “It’s always with you,” Lynn says. “It’s got a camera if you need it, and a location-awareness feature. It takes only seconds to record your data.”
Lynn claims the app can literally change people’s lives. One woman purchased My Pain Diary because of constant pain in her hip. Although she told her doctor about it for years, he was unresponsive. She purchased My Pain Diary, recorded her pain, printed a report and gave it to her doctor. The doctor then saw the reality of the woman’s pain, approved hip surgery and the woman got a new hip.
With both technology and the health care industry in strong growth patterns, Lynn sees a new type of patient emerging, called the “epatient.” A growing number of people will take control of their medical conditions and use technology to manage them. “We’re on the cusp of a health of a health care revolution,” says Lynn. “With the technology available it will change the paradigm and put more control in patient’s hands.”
The My Pain Diary app is available on the iphone, soon on the ipad, and in the future on Android. It costs $1.99, but a free version is available, which allows people to download and evaluate the app. Lynn says My Pain Diary currently has about 400 users daily and about 5,000 people use it monthly. The numbers change all the time, but Lynn expects another 2,000 this month. “It’s growing at a good clip now,” he says.
Similar apps for chronic pain include Chronic Pain Tracker, Pain Care and Chronica Pain Management. Each app offers its own version of how users input data and track it. Some apps are more visual and others offer a “journal like” method to enter and record data. The cost of each varies as well, and most offer a free version to evaluate them.
Chronic Pain Tracker, at $14.99 the most expensive of the pain apps, offers the ability to “paint in” your pain, something like a “paint by number” painting. Chronica is an app developed by someone who suffers from chronic pain. It gives you an image of a human body to pinpoint where pain occurs and then rate its intensity on a scale from one to 10. Pain Care is a free app that recently won the “Project Health Design” challenge by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation.
Lynn sees major health companies entering the marketplace with their own pain apps, but he isn’t afraid of them. “They’d hire someone like me to develop a pain app,” he explains. “They’ll come in, make their money and leave. I have a progressive, chronic condition that’s only going to get to get worse. I’m here for the long run.”
While “break a leg” is a theater term used for good luck, in Damon Lynn’s case, his broken leg actually led to a new career — even if it means a lifetime of chronic pain.