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Chronic pain awareness in the digital age

October 23, 2017 - Abby Charleton

It’s 2017, and in the age of digital the likes of health and safety, and personal health, have come along leaps and bounds in available resources. St John Ambulance has created an app for mobile devices specifically for providing first aid advice, such as how to handle certain situations and when first aid should be administered.

In terms of personal wellbeing, there are apps like Headspace that teach you about meditation and training your mind for a healthier and happier life. Both are easily accessible apps available across a range of devices, proving personal wellness and care is at the forefront of a lot of company’s minds.

You can hit the internet and, through the likes of a symptom checker, diagnose yourself in a matter of seconds for the most common problems. So, you can imagine how surprised I was when someone asked me the question last week: “Is MS the same as Multiple Sclerosis?”

In 2017 are people really so under-informed on conditions that, like MS for example, affect over 100,000 people in the UK alone? The ‘silent epidemic’ of chronic pain (simply defined as pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks) affects nearly 28 million people in the UK – that’s two-fifths of the UK population.

As a Fibromyalgia sufferer myself, I know that around 800,000 people in the UK have the same condition. However, I’m yet to meet someone who knows what it is when I talk about it… never mind knowing anything more about it. A vast amount of people who are diagnosed with such conditions suffer from depression as a result or side effect.

There is clearly a hole in the huge market that needs to be addressed and filled. How can long-term pain conditions that affect such a large number of the world’s population go so unrecognised? May 12th is International FM and Chronic Pain Awareness Day, and May 31st is MS Awareness Day. But where is the app that helps suffers be diagnosed or even recognise their symptoms? Where are the apps that help friends and family understand side effects or care options?

Answer? They don’t exist.

It’s so important that healthcare moves with the times. Generation X is more likely to google the symptoms of an illness than walk into a doctor’s surgery. In addition to St John and Headspace, commendations to the likes of HealthTap that allows you to send health-related questions to a network of doctors, Start that offers programs that track the progress of people suffering from depression and Happify that is described as the gym membership for your emotional health. Let’s hope the rest of the health industry follows by example and joins the app craze to help educate people on the unwanted trend of chronic pain.

 

 

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