Have you gone to the doctor with a mysterious but bothersome pain and found it was hard describe well enough for the physician to figure it out? It happened to me a few years ago when I had piriformis syndrome, an uncommon but extremely painful and difficult to diagnose condition that occurs when the piriformis muscle presses on the sciatic nerve. Often confused with sciatica or herniated disks, even MRI scans don’t always discover piriformis syndrome; I had two scans — with and without contrast — but they didn’t help. Every time I went to the various doctors from whom I sought help they asked me to describe the pain, how it started, if it traveled, and how it felt. All I could remember in recounting incidents as that my back, butt, hip, leg hurt like crazy, and sometimes I screamed. Not much help.
If I’d used Damo Lab’s My Pain Diary to record what happened, what I was doing at the time, how the pain progressed, and how long it lasted, my months of torment might have been lessened. The iOS and Android compatible My Pain Diary has color flags for different pains so if you have more than one problem you can organize them. You make entries either when incidents occur or on a regular schedule to show patterns. Because the app runs on a smartphone, with location tracking the app automatically records the weather at the time of the incident including temperature, barometric pressure, cloud cover, precipitation, humidity, and wind speed and direction. There’s a head map to pinpoint specific locations for head aches and customizable widgets or descriptors for details such as headache location, duration, triggers, and associated symptoms and fibromyalgia sleep quality and duration, location, and remedies. You can graph up to three indicators plus a weather factor to track patterns and trends, attach relevant photos of rashes or swelling, and highlight specific entries with a star icon. A calendar feature can show patterns with various days color-coded and (with iOS phones only) you can set alerts to remind you to make entries. My Pain Diary’s reporting feature emails reports to your doctor or you can print them and take them with you.
Recording and reporting details about pain doesn’t guarantee you’ll provide all the information medical professionals need to accurately diagnose and treat problems, but in these days of shorter visits and increased costs, timely, accurate data has the potential to help you get the right treatment quicker. With my piriformis syndrome, it took an inspired doctor to finally identify the problem, which was remedied in one visit.