Keeping track of your habits and symptoms of arthritis might seem like an obvious thing to do, but how many of us actually do it?
Tracking your activities, diet and symptoms allows you to understand your condition. When a flare-up happens, looking back at your notes can help to identify a trigger. For example, after noticing an increased level of pain, going through what you wrote can help to remember whether you ate more inflammatory foods, such as fried or sugary dishes than usual.
Monitoring your pain can make it easier to observe whether your condition is progressing or worsening. Knowing exactly when the pain level started to fluctuate can also be a good indicator of whether your medication is working. Tracking your habits and symptoms can give a sense of control over arthritis and empower you to make more positive lifestyle changes.
How should I start tracking my arthritis?
You can choose to start your diary the traditional way, with the humble pen and paper. But thanks to smartphones, there are plenty of arthritis tracking apps out there that can offer some useful functionalities the old-school notebook lacks. For example, easier and more visual ways of presenting your data, allowing you to notice patterns between your habits and symptoms. Additionally, apps can send you daily reminders to log the information, which is very useful for improving the consistency of your digital journaling. especially when experiencing brain fog!
The best free apps for tracking the symptoms of arthritis
Choosing the right one app can be challenging, especially with “freemium” features so many options being available! That’s why we’ve decided to create a list of the 5 best free apps for arthritis. All of our choices are free (with no in-app purchases) and approved by ORCHA, a company responsible for reviewing digital products for organisations such as NHS and MHRA.
Rheumabuddy – easy to use symptoms tracker
Rheumabuddy is an app designed specifically for people with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions. It is a great tool to document your wellbeing and symptoms and join a community. Rheumabuddy is the perfect balance between simple design and advanced tracking.
- Diary – a digital journal for rating mood, pain (in the form of a body pain map), fatigue, stiffness, sleep and exercise.
- Analytics – an overview of your pain in the form of a graph.
- Community forum – an option for users to ask and answer questions.
- Appointment tracker – an option to create reminders and prepare for doctor appointments.
We recommend Rheumabuddy to people who want to focus mostly on tracking their symptoms and mood, but don’t want to spend too much time using the app and wish to receive a general overview, rather than complex data.
RA Monitor – advanced symptoms tracker
Similarly to Rheumabuddy, RA Monitor tracks and monitors your daily arthritis symptoms and treatment. It also allows you to connect with the community by using an in-app forum.
- Diary – an advanced tracker of your pain (including a detailed pain map of your body), other symptoms (such as fatigue, fever or chills), ability to function (including activities like eating, dressing, grip and more) medications and mood.
- Analytics – advanced graphs illustrating the data logged in your diary.
- Weather – overview of the weather changes and your recorded symptoms.
- Inspiration – a collection of inspirational quotes.
- Community forum – an option to ask questions and join the conversation with other users.
- Appointment tracker – an option to add appointments to your calendar.
RA Monitor provides a more complex journaling option for people who are willing to put their time into logging symptoms. The app offers an insightful and detailed overview of your data using 5 graphs for tracking the changes in your body, hands, feet, function and mood.
Vim Pain Management – set wellbeing goals and access live workshops
This app from Arthritis Foundation, offers personalized mindfulness activities, exercises, diet recommendations, sleep tools, treatment optimisation and more. Vim Pain Management is not only dedicated to those of us with arthritis but also to people with conditions such as migraines or lupus.
Please note: the app asks for a US zip code (which you can easily find online) to log in.
- Detailed one-time questionnaire – series of questions about your pain and its impact on your life.
- Diary – a simple feature for tracking your mood, sleep, treatment type and average pain level.
- Goals – create your goals for your physical and mental wellbeing, family and lifestyle.
- Community hub – allowing to connect with other users by interacting with their profiles (adding comments or giving ‘cheers’).
- Tools – 7 different categories of free online events, workshops and resources such as live yoga class, podcasts and dietary tips (please bear in mind that the events are usually in Eastern Time – 5 hours earlier than GMT).
- Learning – an option to educate yourself about pain management in the Tools field.
- Badges – little rewards which give great motivation for your journey.
Vim Pain Management is the perfect app for people who want to take action, learn new things and change their lifestyle. However, it offers a limited symptom analysis, so using it as a complementary app to a more advanced symptom tracker (such as Rheumabuddy) can be a good idea!
My Arthritis – educate yourself by taking in-app courses
This app has been created in collaboration with leading specialists at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the British National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS). My Arthritis will allow you to understand your condition and engage in improving your health and lifestyle through interactive tools.
- Diary – a feature allowing you to easily log your feelings, lifestyle and symptoms by answering an in-app questionnaire.
- News – a selection of useful news, tips and resources for your condition such as stretching videos or virtual events.
- Medication reminder – notifications about your medication time.
- Appointment calendar – a useful feature for remembering your appointments.
- Stats – an overview of your sleep, pain and diet in the form of a graph and a wellness score calculated based on your habits and symptoms.
- Courses – a collection of many free short (up to a few minutes) and long (up to 14 days) video courses about general wellbeing, medication and symptom tracking.
- Library – a wide catalogue of medically approved articles related to health and wellbeing.
My arthritis is a great resource and we strongly recommend it for those who want to educate themselves and do useful courses in the comfort of their home. The data analysis options give you a good overview but are not as detailed as those of Rheumabuddy or RA Monitor.
Arthritis Tracker – understand your condition and become a part of the community
- Diary – an option to easily rate your energy, medication side effects, activity and sleep.
- Pain map – an option to mark the pain in the areas of your body.
- Wellbeing overview – an analysis of your daily notes.
- Info and tips – organised tips of useful information for young people with arthritis about daily life, school and education, medication, arthritis and real-life stories.
- Local community (UK) – after typing your postcode the app will show you a list of arthritis community groups and events in your area.
Arthritis Tracker is best suited for young people who value easy design and want to meet peers with similar conditions. It’s a great option for starting the journey of tracking your symptoms and wellbeing!
Ready to choose your app?
All you need to do now is go to your app store and download your chosen app! If you are still not sure, download a few and test them. That should allow you to find out which one suits you best. Let us know in the comments if the article was useful and what your favourite app is!