Four Mobile Apps for Pain Management


These apps can help you and your patients more effectively manage their acute and chronic pain.

Fam Pract Manag. 2018 Jul-Aug;25(4):oa1-oa4.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

Family physicians regularly help patients deal with acute and chronic pain. One study estimated that more than 126 million people in the United States had reported some level of pain in the previous three months and that 25 million people suffer from daily pain – often quite severe.1 Patients in severe pain tend to have worse health statuses and more disability.

Mobile devices can help patients better understand the causes of their pain, which can help them better cope with their conditions, and provide you with data you need to recommend or alter treatment. To help you guide patients to the best apps, this article focuses on four that earned top ratings when reviewed using FPM's “SPPACES” criteria.


S — Source or developer of app

P — Platforms available

P — Pertinence to primary care practice

A — Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information

C — Cost

E — Ease of use

S — Sponsor(s)


Migraine Buddy is a headache diary that allows patients who experience migraine headaches to monitor the conditions that lead to an attack and influence its severity.

Source: Healint.

Platforms available: Android 4.0.3 or later (https://bit.ly/Wj5MiW); iOS 9.0 or later for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (https://apple.co/2I8gJjH).

Pertinence to primary care practice: Migraine Buddy increases patient engagement and helps patients become more cognizant of how migraine attacks start and how to treat them. It also allows patients to provide their physician with a summary of migraine symptoms, frequency, and previous treatments.

Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The user can track migraine triggers, associated symptoms, frequency, duration, intensity, location, and alleviating factors. The app automatically tracks sleep, weather, air pressure, motion, and fitness. Designed by neurologists and data scientists, Migraine Buddy stores all data in a HIPAA-compliant cloud. The app has been featured by various newspapers, magazines, and websites, although it has not been evaluated in the literature for efficacy. It is one of many migraine-focused apps.2 The app was last updated in June 2018 (Android and iOS).

Cost: Free.

Ease of use: Users can quickly and easily record an attack using the app's diagrams and questionnaire. If the user is unable to record all information at the time of the attack, the app allows him or her to skip certain entries and will remind the user to finish later. The content is available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Sponsor: Healint.


Migraine Buddy is a great app that helps patients gain insight into their migraine triggers and the most useful treatments.


Cara (a “food, mood,


Dr. Rebedew is a family physician at Monroe Clinic in Albany, Wis., and a faculty member for the University of Illinois Rockford Family Medicine Residency.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.


1. Nahin RL. Estimates of pain prevalence and severity in adults: United States, 2012. J Pain. 2015;16(8):769–780.

2. Hundert AS, Huguet A, McGrath PJ, Stinson JN, Wheaton M. Commercially available mobile phone headache diary apps: a systematic review. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2014;2(3):e36.

3. Lalloo C, Jibb LA, Rivera J, Agarwal A, Stinson JN. “There's a pain app for that”: review of patient-targeted smartphone applications for pain management. Clin J Pain. 2015;31(6):557–563.


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