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Tracking Your RA With Smart Phone Apps
Today's phone technology allows you stay on top of your RA symptoms, helping you to recognize flare-ups and even generate a report for your doctor.
By Mikel Theobald
Medically Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD
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Rheumatoid arthritis flares are when they occur, but over time your memory of the pain and stiffness diminishes, which makes it hard to give your doctor an accurate report on the true progression of your disease. Tracking by jotting down symptoms and your varying pain levels might be a great idea, but it's not always feasible, especially when you’re on the go. The answer: Use an iPhone app to turn your cell phone into your personal health assistant.
MyRA,from Crescendo Bioscience, Inc., is a free app that got the highest marks from Diane White, a roller derby athlete from the East Coast who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis more than 11 years ago. "Sometimes I feel as though I have a tendency to forget the tougher days once they are gone," White says, and this leads to responses on her rheumatologist's questionnaire that may not present a 100-percent accurate picture of her disease activity between appointments. “I think this app will be extremely helpful in monitoring my condition over time. It uses the same diagnostic questions that my rheumatologist uses, and every morning it sends me a text that asks, ‘How are you feeling?’ in a rather upbeat way.” MyRA is available from iTunes.
You probably know how important a healthy support system is when dealing with a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Thanks to the Arthritis Connect app by Alliance Health Networks, you can connect to a chat-room community through your iPhone. Post questions to see how others have responded to specific medications or symptoms, learn about clinical trials, and build a support network, all from your cell phone. “This peer-to-peer interaction is invaluable for patients to discuss their own experiences, successes, failures, and various treatment modalities,” says Aman Dhawan, MD, of University Orthopaedic Associates in New Jersey. The app is free and can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.
The Internet can be a gold mine of information on most any topic, but sometimes there's just too much to wade through. “Arthritis ID is an application for the iPhone that integrates the latest information and data, as well as incorporates social networking in the form of a North American arthritis chat-room community,” says Dr. Dhawan. The information supplied in the app is evidence-based, removing concerns about misinformation. And though medical professionals give the app high marks, it may need some tweaking to make it more patient-friendly. White gave it a try and thought it felt more like an article about arthritis than an app to be used for tracking symptoms.
However, quick and easy is how White describes the RheumaTrack app. “I might use this if the MyRA app wasn’t available,” she says, noting that the tracking options on the app are not joint specific, which is a feature she feels would add value. Amit Gaglani, PT, OCS, a physical therapist and owner of Accelerated Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in New Jersey, is also a fan. “RheumaTrack is an excellent application for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to journal their symptoms and changing activity levels," he says. "It offers a medication reminder, a pain scale, and a way to export the data so you can have a permanent record." He says the app will give doctors a better picture of the extent of their patients' symptoms. The app, which is free, can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
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