As part of their growing suite of mobile apps, Griffith University has launched a unique app that helps headache sufferers record the severity and regularity of their pain.
The app, essentially a headache diary, forms part of the ENHANCE project, which is investigating the effectiveness of managing headaches using a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and a new approach called learning to cope with triggers (LCT).
The Griffith University research team, led by Professor Paul Martin of the Behavioural Basis of Health program, aims to help people with headache become desensitised to triggers such as food, noise and stress, or to build up a tolerance to them. Read more about the EASE approach for dealing with headache triggers on the Headache Australia website.
According to Professor Martin, the new app - developed in partnership with African Startup company Wexpert Technologies, - will help improve research outcomes by directly downloading the diary into data files, enabling the research team to know when he ratings of head pain are made, rather than relying on the self reports of the participants.
“This app will benefit the ENHANCE project but will also be a very useful tool for other headache researchers around the world,” said Professor Martin.
Griffith University has also launched another app, designed to help patients with chronic fatigue syndrome better manage their illness. Called CliniHelp, it is also suitable for patients with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, allowing them to record symptoms, track them on a weekly basis, and monitor changes in their condition.
Do you suffer from headaches?
The ENHANCE project is currently seeking 120 participants between the ages of 18 and 75 years who regularly experience six or more headache days per month.
To participate or for further details, contact the ENHANCE team on (07) 5678 0727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since writing his post in 2013, there has been an exciting development in the world of pain.
NSW Health and the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation launched their new user-friendly Chronic Pain ToolKit - The Pain Management Network.
Take a look at the website then read on…
I’m in Pain I don’t want to exercise
Let’s face it, the last thing you feel like doing when you have pain, is exercise. It’s more likely that you will listen to your body, and those around you, and rest the injury until you feel able to continue your normal activities. Many people who have experienced a sports injury or another type of acute pain, may be advised by their medical professional to rest for a brief period, perhaps take over-the-counter pain medication, and once they can move freely again to continue their normal activity. Others may avoid all activity, take strong pain medication and rest until the pain has gone completely. Everyone experiences pain differently depending on their past history of pain, culture, beliefs, mood and ability to cope.
But what if the pain doesn’t go away?
People who experience long-term pain (known as chronic or persistent pain), often become disabled by their pain. Chronic pain can stop people doing the things they are used to and can restrict normal daily activities and enjoyable leisure time. Of course, this can lead to feelings of helplessness, frustration, anxiety and may result in an increased sense of isolation.
Exercise and chronic pain
Many people who experience chronic pain tend to arrange their lives to avoid activity as much as possible. They give up their usual activities and become less fit. If you are experiencing chronic pain, it is likely that your doctor will have several treatment suggestions. When a team of health professionals are involved, it’s called a multidisciplinary approach. Gentle exercise forms an important part of this approach and studies have shown that exercise goes a long way to help managing chronic pain.
But how do I start?
Exercise helps by improving strength and fitness, increasing confidence and allowing you to gradually return to productive, enjoyable activities. Before starting an exercise program, it is advisable to consult a medical professional. You may be afraid that exercising will cause further injury and more pain. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. They may suggest seeing a psychologist with chronic pain experience who can help you manage the fear and anxiety that is often associated with chronic pain.
Setting your exercise goals When you start exercising, keep in mind some realistic and achievable goals. Realistic goals for an exercise program might be:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased strength
- Improved fitness level
- Improved endurance.
Even though improving your flexibility, strength and endurance may help to reduce pain levels, it is more realistic to work towards improving your ability to function from day-to-day, rather than use pain relief as a goal. Be SMART When you set goals, make them SMART goals:
- Specific - State exactly what your goal is, eg; I want to run in the local 2 km Run for Cancer Research
- Measurable - How will you achieve your goal? Perhaps you could start by walking for 20 minutes three times a week. Then, in two weeks, build up to running for 2 minutes during the walk. Increase the run by 1 minute every time you go out for your walk.
- Achievable - Set goals you know you can achieve. There’s nothing worse than setting unachievable goals eg; I am going to do the corporate triathlon next month and then, if you don’t achieve the goal, feeling as if you have failed.
- Relevant - Is this something you really want to do? Is it a worthwhile goal to set for yourself?
- Time-bound - Have a definite time frame for your goal. For example; In three months, my goal is to build up to running 2 km for the local Run for Cancer Research.
Exercise programs usually consist of the following components:
- Warm-up and Stretching
- Strengthening - Body core and large muscles
- Aerobic fitness
- Warm down
Of course, if you have chronic pain, it is best to get back into exercise gradually. Always consult your doctor or medical professional for an exercise plan or get a referral to see an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist. Most importantly, pace yourself, be kind to yourself and don’t overdo it.
Nicholas M, Molloy A, Tonkin L, Beeston L. (2000) Manage Your Pain: Practical and Positive ways of Adapting to Chronic Pain. ABC Books, Sydney, Australia.
Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals”. Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated.
Pain Management Network
Body In Mind.org