Pain App Lets Patients ‘Paint’ Their Pain

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

There are dozens of mobile apps that can help chronic pain patients track their symptoms, send reports to doctors, get health tips and even keep tabs on the weather.

GeoPain, a free app recently launched by a University of Michigan startup, takes the technology a step further. Instead of just giving a single number on a pain scale of zero to 10, patients can “paint” their pain on multiple locations on a 3D image of the human body.

The app’s creators say visually mapping the pain gives doctors a better idea of the pain’s location, severity, it’s possible cause and the best way to treat it.

“We can dissect the pain with greater precision, in one patient or several, and across multiple body locations,” says Alexandre DaSilva, co-founder of MoxyTech and director of the Headache & Orofacial Pain Effort Laboratory at the U-M School of Dentistry.

“Whether the patient has a migraine, fibromyalgia or dental pain, we can measure whether a particular medication or clinical procedure is effective for each localized or spread pain condition. Geopain is a GPS for pain health care.”

Patients can also use GeoPain to show their doctors a visual recording of a pain flare long after the flare has ended.

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“What patients are responding to the most is the visual tracking of their pain over time. They have shared some great stories of how they can now cleary show doctors how their pain has changed, which helps give them credibility and speeds up treatment,” Eric Maslowski, MoxyTech’s co-founder and chief technology officer, wrote in an email to PNN.

“Many clinicians like the visual nature of the app and ease of use. What was surprising to us initially was their interest in it for documenting patient visits for insurance and liability.” 

The app was initially created to track pain in patients enrolled in studies on migraine and chronic pain at the University of Michigan. Research showed that GeoPain data directly correlates with opioid activity in the brains of chronic pain patients, suggesting it might be useful in clinical trials to measure the effectiveness of pain medication.

The free app is available at Google Play, Apple’s App Store and at GeoPain.com.