Hands-on, WebMD Pain Coach iPhone App, No Drugs Included

WebMD's new iPhone app, Pain Coach (free) is here to help those who suffer from chronic pain; no drugs included. The health information website hopes to coach consumers to make healthier choices, which in turn, should help manage pain. How does it do this? Through daily tips, helping users set wellness goals and by sharing progress with their doctor. With more than 100 million Americans suffering from a chronic pain condition, according to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, it seems like an app that many may find useful. We went hands-on to see exactly how helpful Pain Coach is.

After downloading the app, the home screen asked us to sign in, sign up or view the Pain Coach video. The video outlines how those suffering from chronic pain can better their conditions and improve their lives by using the app. Signing up required our email address, a password, a screen name and birth date.

To get started, we were asked which pain conditions we suffered from. We checked migraines, and entered symptoms that included aching, dizziness, headache, light sensitivity, nausea and throbbing pain. Next, we were asked what triggers our pain or makes it worse, to which we checked bright light, fatigue, noise, overdoing it and stress. Finally, we were asked what treatments we were currently using. We checked breathing exercises and rest in dark room.

We were given the option to allow or block Pain Coach from using our current location to get weather conditions in order to track pain triggers. We tapped OK to allow.

The Pain Coach's Need To Know Basics page explains the apps inner workings. You can select your overall well being and update it throughout the day, track your pain by choosing a number on a scale of 0 to 10, select your symptoms, review your progress, get a pain summary or view a custom report. Other features including daily tips relevant articles to your condition as well as videos and slideshows related to your pain.

The app's Goal guide instructed us to choose a goal from a lifestyle category, choose a recommended goal or explore more, track your goals daily, check off goals once you've achieved them and review your goal progress. We chose the Rest lifestyle category then chose the Listen To Your Body goal. We were given the default time of one week to achieve this goal, but we were able to adjust it if we thought it would take us more or less than a week. We could also view related tips from here.

The bottom navigation bar had icons for our Journal, Goals, a Library, Tips and Settings. Our Journal had our daily pain details and contained our daily tip. The Library had lots of material on different types of pain, pain management techniques, treatment and care for chronic pain, etc. Within each of these categories were even more sub-categories of content. When we chose a topic, we were taken to a WebMD article on that particular subject. We were truly impressed by the massive amount of variety of content.

Under the Tips tab, there were five lifestyle categories: Food, Rest, Exercise, Mood and Treatments. We tapped Mood, and were taken to a list of sub-categories. After choosing Get Mind Off Pain, we were taken to another list of even more specific topics. We then chose Push Pain Away, and were taken to advice on how to do that. Again, the amount of material available in Tips was simply impressive.

In Settings, we could modify our Conditions, Symptoms, Triggers, Treatments and Notifications. Within Notifications we could turn off if we wanted a Daily Journal Reminder and what time we wanted to receive our reminder. We could also turn sounds on or off, create a PIN, learn more about the app, view feedback and go back to Pain Coach 101, the tools that guided us through the app. In addition, we could rate and review the app and tell a friend.

After tinkering around with WebMD Pain Coach, we can see that it can be a great resource for those suffering from chronic pain. While it won't physically ease anyone's pain, it does offer tons of resources and tips. Even if users don't read any of the helpful information, simply tracking your chronic pain on a daily basis is helpful for making you more aware of your condition and progress.