By: Nathan Skelley, M.D.

No one wants to think about pain. When you’re going to see the orthopedic surgeon, however, pain is a common motivator getting you to the office. Similarly, if you’ve ever had surgery, monitoring your pain after surgery is very important to your surgeon. From the surgeons’ viewpoint, pain is an important way to evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment.

Orthopedists commonly have patients keep physical pain diaries after a procedure. These are paper notebooks where the patient records pain scores after a surgery or injection. These paper based pain scores can be difficult to read depending on the quality of the notebook and patient’s handwriting. Similarly, patients miss times to log scores, and some patients even lose their log or forget to bring it to clinic.

Welcome to the PainDiary App by AppDoc. This is an extremely simple and useful app. It uses mobile technology to replace the paper pain diary and adds many unique features. The app is based on content from the website which is a well established online resource for shoulder information.

User Interface

The app opens with a data entry screen requesting basic identifying information, including the procedure performed and the surgeon’s name. The bottom of the form asks for the physician’s office email address.


Once this basic information is complete, the app asks if you would like to sync the app to your calendar. If you have difficulty remembering when to do tasks, this is a good way to set reminders.

Score times



The app allows the patient to set one pre-procedure pain score and then at designated intervals, the post-procedure pain scores. These are logged on a sliding visual analog scale. This scale has a convenient slider that is colored to clearly show the range from no pain to worst pain.

The app can log pain scores on a monthly basis and out to a year from the procedure. For research purposes, it is helpful to have data up to two years or more after a procedure. This should be a simple update and would greatly enhance the app. This is especially true considering the app has a reminder function that integrates well with the user calendar.


The app has the ability to log multiple procedures and pain scores for those procedures. This is useful for patients with more than one issue or treatment intervention. Users should know that when information is entered, it cannot be changed. In some scenarios, it would be helpful if the patient could alter entered data once or twice in cases of error or to make the information more accurate. However, it is understandable that the physician would not want the pain scores altered in any way at a later date. Overall, the application is well organized and easy to use.


  • Free


  • Simple and easy to use interface
    Integrates well with calendar and reminders make it easy to keep logs updated
    Ability to email results to the physician’s office


  • Ability to evaluate pain in pre-procedure time-frame
  • Needs to notify patients they cannot change data once entered
  • Enter pain scores at any time interval

Healthcare workers that would benefit from the app

  • Any patient or healthcare worker who has a role monitoring pain levels in orthopedic patients.


  • This application is easy to use, delivers very well on its intended purpose, and solves many of the problems involved with paper pain diaries. The app design is simple and straightforward making it easy to understand, even for older patients or the less technologically inclined.
  • Having the pain information consolidated into one location with this app will be beneficial to some practitioners and the email feature makes it easy for the physician’s office to keep a record of pain scores.

Type of device used to review app: iPhone 5
Version of App: 1.0

iTunes Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 4.5/5

  1. User Interface: 5/5 – The app has a basic data entry design and list format for pain scores. The app is easy to use and navigate.
  2. Multimedia usage: 4/5 – There are no fancy images or videos in the app, but that is not the goal of this app.
  3. Price: 5/5 – The application is free.
  4. Real world applicability: 4/5 – As patients become more technologically inclined and more medical records move to an electronic database, applications like the PainDiary App will play a larger role in patient care.

This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the app’s validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.