Pain has been a part of human life since the dawn of time. It is surprising therefore that the treatment of pain gained acceptance as part of medical teaching and research just in the past few decades. Chronic pain is no longer seen as a troublesome side effect, but as a serious disease on its own. In this context, there have been significant discussions about how medical professionals communicate with patients about their pain: How much responsibility does the patient have in the treatment of his or her pain? To what extent will the patient be involved in decisions? To what extent will you let the patient speak? The new practice of pain medicine puts patients and their needs at the center and recommends an individual approach to every history of suffering.
Pain diaries have been introduced as part of this new thinking and have come to be seen as a key element of pain management: Patients observe themselves, their environment and the course of their pain over time. This allows patterns to be revealed and interrelations identified, helping patients better understand their pain and to get a clearer or new picture of it. In addition, the diary can make it easier to explain the pain to a physician or therapist. This, in turn, has a positive impact on diagnosis and treatment.
In the past, such pain diaries have been kept on paper. Just recently, electronic pain diaries have emerged in the context of a general digitization of the medical world. Studies have made several convincing arguments in favor of the use of such electronic pain diaries, almost to the point of making them mandatory: The electronic diaries are convenient to use and save time and, as a result, patients are more consistent in maintaining them. The data can be easily collected,shared and analyzed, which benefits both medical practice and research. Patients who have kept an electronic pain diary and shared it with their physician report that treatment has been adapted and improved thanks to the insights gained from the diary. But most important is the realization that the use of an electronic pain diary increases patients' satisfaction.
But not only studies draw such an optimistic picture. Several CatchMyPain users have also reported very positive experiences: The diary makes a major contribution to understanding one's pain and the pain graph can directly and clearly show the effect of treatments. Particularly appreciated is the ability to indicate the location of the pain on a model of the human body. Many patients report that their doctors and therapists were thrilled to see their diaries. This view was also confirmed by the responses we have received directly from doctors and therapists: CatchMyPain is very promising, as it actually makes it easier to visualize the patient's pain, observe the success of a treatment and adjust it accordingly.
Have you already discussed your pain diary with your doctor or therapist? Have you shown it to a member of your family or a fellow sufferer? A problem shared is a problem halved, so the saying goes. It's true, isn't it?
What experiences have you had? Does keeping a pain diary help? What have you learned about yourself and your pain? What has your doctor learned about your pain problem? Do you feel that your pain is being taken seriously? Please share your comments. We are trying to improve CatchMyPain continuously.
Those are the articles about the impact of electronic pain diaries which were mentioned above:
Marceau, L.D. et al. (2007): Electronic Diaries as a Tool to Improve Pain Management: Is There Any Evidence? in Pain Medicine 8 (S3), pp.101-109. American Academy of Pain Medicine: Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Gaertner, J. et al. (2004): Electronic Pain Diary; a Randomised Crossover Study in Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 28 (6), p.6. University of Cologne and University of Aachen: Germany.