PainSpot is an online risk assessment tool for patients that can help them understand what might be causing their joint and musculoskeletal pain. PainSpot was created by a clinical rheumatologist with 30+ years of experience diagnosing and treating patients with arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. Our goal is to educate and empower people to have more informed conversations with their health care provider. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about PainSpot.



According to Pew Research Center, six out of 10 Americans said they turned to the Internet for health information in the past year. It’s challenging for patients to vet the information they encounter in online searches, know whether they can trust it, or whether it applies to their specific pain symptoms. This can lead to patients believing inaccurate information about their condition and delays in patients seeing the right health care provider and getting the right diagnosis and treatment.

Douglas Roberts, MD, a clinical rheumatologist in Sacramento, California and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis Medical School, created the first version of PainSpot because he saw firsthand how his patients struggled to understand the causes of their pain while experiencing frustrating delays getting to the right doctor, the right diagnosis, and the right treatment plan.

PainSpot is an online risk assessment tool that helps people understand possible causes of their pain based on their pain location(s) as well as other important factors. By equipping patients with a short list of possible conditions that could be causing their pain, PainSpot helps promote more informed and productive conversations between patients and their physicians.

PainSpot is now part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, a patient-centered non-profit organization with the mission to improve the quality of life for people with chronic illness. GHLF is also the parent organization of CreakyJoints, the digital arthritis community for millions of arthritis patients and caregivers worldwide who seek education, support, advocacy, and patient-centered research via ArthritisPower®, the first-ever patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions.



A patient clicks on a specific area of the body that is in pain and then answers a series of specific questions about the nature of the pain. These questions are based on the clinical decision-making and differential diagnoses tools that Dr. Roberts and other leading physicians use during patient office visits.

After the patient finishes the questions, they receive a list of possible conditions that could be causing their pain with more information about those conditions’ symptoms, causes, and treatments. Patients are instructed to print and bring their PainSpot results to their health care providers for more discussion.



We at PainSpot and the Global Healthy Living Foundation believe that supporting, educating, and empowering patients is critical for more productive doctor-patient conversations in clinical health care settings. We also know that office visits are short, rushed, and focused — and health care providers don’t necessarily have time to help patients sift through mountains of internet printouts.

Because PainSpot’s algorithm is designed on the same questions, topics, and thinking that clinical rheumatologists and other specialists use to make a differential diagnosis, it cuts through the white noise of patients’ basic internet research. Our goal is that when patients bring in PainSpot results to discuss with you, this leads to more productive conversations and a faster path to the right diagnosis.

PainSpot helps patients

In its first five years, PainSpot has provided assessments for hundreds of thousands of people with undiagnosed musculoskeletal pain and driven them to primary care physicians, rheumatologists, orthopedists, pain management experts, and other specialists to get the right diagnosis and medical care.

PainSpot helps physicians

When a patient brings in PainSpot results to discuss with you, you can trust that they’ve already begun the process of tracking and analyzing their symptoms to help you more readily conduct their medical history and physical exam.

PainSpot was built by a health care provider like you

Dr. Roberts created PainSpot independently because he saw how hard it was for patients to find quality information online about the causes of their pain symptoms. As a rheumatologist in private practice, he saw how patients struggled to talk to primary care doctors about their pain and understand when referral to a specialist was helpful or necessary.

We partner with leading doctors to continue to monitor and enhance PainSpot and ensure it is achieving our goals for both patients and providers. If you have feedback on PainSpot we would like to hear from you. Please contact us using the form below.


We work with a number of health care providers to get this tool to those that most need it. If you would like to share this tool with your patients or provide us feedback, please fill out the form below.