By Karla Fitch
Yesterday, we looked at Online Pain Management for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Today, we’ll look at three online pain management sites and some of the bells and whistles they offer. You can decide what features are important to you.
A closer look at 3 online pain management tools
eTrack Pain was the simplest site to use of the three I surveyed. The form is very simple and can be completed in less than a minute. Users quantify pain on a 1-10 scale; indicate how pain has affected their quality of life; and then rate activity, stress, and appetite. There is room for additional comments where you can also list treatments, medications, or notes that will help you discuss the entry with your doctor.
eTrack Pain offers a reporting screen that summarizes up to 20 entries from a date you enter. You can also set up reminder e-mails or text messages to your cell phone so you don’t forget to make your regular entries. Finally, eTrack Pain allows you to share your journal by inviting other people to track your progress. The options are very easy to set up and modify once they’ve been created.
One word of caution to US users: eTrack Pain is a Canadian site and is bound by the privacy laws of Canada. It is not US HIPAA compliant. eTrack Pain also does not use a secure transmission (https) for data.
RA Symptom Tracker
RA Symptom Tracker is an online pain management tool offered by the makers of Cimzia. Of course, you don’t need to take Cimzia to use the RA Symptom Tracker. Of the three sites I reviewed, RA Symptom Tracker was the only site geared specifically to RA. It is also the only site to offer a HAQ-8 (Health Assessment Questionnaire) and a special field for tracking morning stiffness.
The body map in RA Symptom Tracker is easy to use and allows patients to associate three different levels of pain, tenderness, and swelling to a number of joints. One of the things I liked about this body map was that I could even identify the specific joints on my fingers and toes where I was experiencing a flare. Unfortunately, the body map is limited to specific joints, so I could not, for example, record hip pain.
In addition to the body map, RA Symptom Tracker allows you to track all RA medications and treatments that range from acupuncture and massage to TENS and yoga. RA Symptom Tracker will run a summary report for a date range you specify. The report can be printed or e-mailed directly to your doctor or someone else. You can even customize your report by using links to turn certain sections on and off.
Like eTrack Pain, RA Symptom tracker allows you to share your progress with doctors and loved ones. You can also set up reminder e-mails to help you remember to make entries. The site also uses security measures to protect user privacy and is HIPAA certified in the US.
Relief Insite offers the most detailed tracking of the three online pain management tools surveyed. Tracking is free to patients. Relief Insite sells the software to health care companies and providers.
The body map used by the Relief Insite tracker is divided by a grid so that users can select almost any area to track pain. To track, you first indicate the severity of the pain and then color the areas on the front, back, left or right side views. You can also drag and drop a maximum pain point marker to identify a specific source of pain in a larger area. For example, your wrist is the source of the pain, but both your hand and wrist hurt.
After identifying painful areas and quantifying pain on the body map, you select words that describe your pain (for example, “aching” or “tender”) and identify activities that relieve and trigger the pain. You can also select from a list of symptoms encountered as a result of the pain (for example, “fatigue” or “headaches”) and rate these items as well.
While Relief Insite does not offer the HAQ-8 or morning stiffness tracking found on the RA Symptom Tracker tool, the software does offer a series of scales designed to help you communicate how pain has affected your lifestyle. You can record medications and treatments along with how satisfied you were with the effects. Finally you can record additional information in each Notes section. You can also add items to a To Do list that will then highlight items you specifically want to discuss with your doctor.
You can e-mail a report Report with a summarized body map and pain graphs or share it with a sharing partner. Relief Insite offers checklists of symptoms and characteristics to help patients better communicate the pain. The site also uses security measures to protect user privacy and is HIPAA certified.
Note: Online pain management surveys were conducted by the author and are composed solely of her own observations as of January 2010. Karla Fitch is an RA warrior, mom, and artist with a small crochet business. She can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE 3.25.2017: The information in this post by Karla is still valuable but these particular app sites are no longer available. If you want to try one, there is a great list of RA online apps here at HealthLine, including MyRA by Crescendo Bioscience.
- Online Pain Management for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- 20 Tips for Managing Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
- What Is the First Symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Woman’s Day Rheumatoid Arthritis Article: A Video Appeal