In Pain? Get Your Smart Phone

Are you in pain? What if your doctor could make it better, over the phone?  It's a new way of easing chronic pain and it's done over your smart phone.

According to sciencedaily.com, mobile phones can track patients from a distance and monitor pain, mood, physical activity, drug side effects, and treatment compliance.

The Web site quotes Robert Jamison, PhD, professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and pain psychologist with Brigham and Women's Hospital, who says that smartphone apps are helping the shrinking ranks of pain specialists treat and monitor rapidly increasing populations of chronic pain sufferers. "Today the ratio is one pain specialist for every 10,000 patients, but mobile technology allows for easy time-effective coverage of patients at a low cost, offering significant opportunities to improve access to health care, contain costs, and improve clinical outcomes," Jamison explains.

OK, so it's not a magic pill.  

"Online networks, for example, can promote communication, distraction, information sharing, self expression and social support," Jamison says. "We also believe online networks decrease feelings of withdrawn behavior and instill a greater willingness to return for treatment."
Electronic diaries maintained by patients can help and are even more effective than paper diaries for evaluating pain levels, daily activities, treatment compliance and mood, the Web site notes.
Jamison says that while few studies have been conducted on text messaging as a pain management tool,
"Texting has proven to be effective for managing patients with diabetes, hypertension, asthma, smoking cessation and weight loss."

So is it really back to us to manage our own pain?  Sciencedaily.com points out that a key feature of the pain management app is "daily pain tracking in which patients are asked five questions about their pain, activity interference, sleep, mood, and overall status on a sliding scale of 1 to 10, and compare these with baseline ratings." Should your pain worsen significantly from the baseline or reach 9 or 10, you'll get an immediate response that the pain specialist has been contacted.
"The pain management smartphone app can deliver non-pharmacological, cognitive behavioral treatment as well as prompt patients to stay active, comply with therapy, and develop pain coping skills," Jamison reports. He added that the smartphone data can be summarized and transmitted every day into the patient's electronic medical record.

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