Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 3 months, and sometimes for years. Keeping a pain diary and tracking how your pain affects your daily activities can be a useful way to help you understand what makes your pain worse and what helps to relieve your pain. It can also help you describe to your healthcare team how your pain has been affecting you over time. This can be done by keeping a paper diary, or more recently with the use of apps for chronic pain. On this page you will find information on:
- App reviews: pain management apps
- Deciding on a suitable pain management app - help me choose
- Other apps you may find helpful
App reviews: pain management apps
If guided by a relevant health professional with phone or email follow up, or self-guided for highly motivated patients.
Pain management apps - help me choose
There are a variety of apps aimed at supporting people with chronic pain. These apps differ in their features and functionality and choosing between the apps is challenging because many of them have been developed without any input from healthcare professionals or undergone objective assessment. A study by Devan H et al, 2019 considered the following attributes to be desirable in apps for pain self-management.
- Self efficacy building where the user is given information on self-management or active coping strategies to improve their ability to control their behaviour ( CBT approaches). For example the app has information and education on pain, activity pacing, exercises, relaxation and breathing, meditation and mindfulness and distraction techniques.
- Self-tailoring where information and support is based on the users symptoms and needs.
- Self-monitoring of symptoms to help users monitor their symptoms, mood, thoughts, and pain intensity using features such as thought diaries; daily activity tracking and pain diaries.
- Goal setting and planning so users can identify, log and track meaningful emotional, physical and social goals such as planning daily activities or planning a specific activity goal.
- Problem solving where users have a plan for dealing with stressful or challenging situations such as having a plan for dealing with flare-ups.
- Partnership between views of patient and clinicians to encourage users to interact with their health care provider and be involved in decision making, by including information or training on assertive communication with health professionals.
- Social support where users have access to others living with persistent pain, to provide emotional, informational, and appraisal support such as a chat group or online community.
- Cultural relevance includes information tailored to cultural beliefs and diverse groups for example has information relevant to different ethnicities, or disabilities.
The study found the following apps to have the largest number of features to support the self-management of pain. The authors noted that none of the apps provided culturally tailored information.
Other apps you may find helpful
- Sleep apps: Some help you track your sleep habits, similar to a sleep diary, and help you develop good sleep routines, while others try to assist you to fall asleep by using calming visual graphics and relaxing music. Read more about sleep apps.
- Mental health and wellbeing apps: To learn techniques such as guided meditation and mindfulness to help you cope with feels of anxiety, depression and stress. Read more about mental health and wellbeing apps.
- Goal setting, problem solving and motivation apps: To learn more about setting goals, making changes, creating action plans and problem solving. Read more about goal setting, problem solving and motivation apps.
- Devan H, Farmery D, Peebles L, Grainger R. Evaluation of Self-Management Support Functions in Apps for People With Persistent Pain: Systematic Review. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019 Feb 12;7(2)
- Rahman QA, Janmohamed T, Pirbaglou M, et al. Patterns of User Engagement With the Mobile App, Manage My Pain: Results of a Data Mining Investigation. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Jul 12;5(7):e96.
- Chaudhry BM. No gain without pain: using pain tracking mobile Apps. Mhealth. 2016 Jul 4;2:27.
- Lalloo C, Jibb LA, Rivera J, et al. "There's a Pain App for That": Review of Patient-targeted Smartphone Applications for Pain Management. Clin J Pain. 2015 Jun;31(6):557-63.
- Wallace LS, Dhingra LK. A systematic review of smartphone applications for chronic pain available for download in the United States. J Opioid Manag. 2014 Jan-Feb;10(1):63-8.
Disclaimer: Health Navigator’s app library is a free consumer service to help you decide whether a health app would be suitable for you. Our review process is independent. We have no relationship with the app developers or companies and no responsibility for the service they provide. This means that if you have an issue with one of the apps we have reviewed, you will need to contact the app developer or company directly.