Dealing with fibromyalgia can get pretty lonely. People who used to be your friends can sort of drop out of your life after the chronic pain and fatigue you experience make staying connected difficult. Luckily, where human friends can let you down, having a pet can really help when it comes to dealing with the pain of fibromyalgia.
Not only will a furry friend give you some companionship, but it turns out that pet therapy can actually be a pretty effective way of dealing with fibromyalgia pain. Here’s how it works.
What Is Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, is a slightly unconventional approach to dealing with chronic pain. Basically, it involves using specially trained animals to provide comfort to people who suffer from diseases like fibromyalgia. The animals provide companionship while the patient pets or plays with them, reducing the amount of stress and pain they feel.
Pet therapy is also used frequently for people who are in hospice care. Many find the presence of an animal to be reassuring in what is a very stressful situation. In addition, kids who might be nervous about undergoing a surgical procedure also benefit from pet therapy since it can help them feel calmer.
The biggest concern when it comes to pet therapy is making sure that the animals are well-trained and vaccinated. Because pet therapy is often done in hospitals, doctors want to be sure that a dog won’t get loose and run around contaminating the area.
With that being said, pet therapy, when done by a professional, is perfectly safe and can be very effective for treating fibromyalgia pain.
How Can Pet Therapy Ease Fibromyalgia Pain?
While the idea that simply petting a cat or dog can actually help your fibromyalgia pain seems a little far-fetched, there’s some basic science that backs it up. You see, petting an animal has been shown to cause your body to release lower levels of cortisol, which is the hormone linked to stress. And cortisol levels are directly linked to the amount of pain people with fibromyalgia feel.
And in addition to helping deal with your fibromyalgia pain, pet therapy also has other benefits. Depression and anxiety are both common among people with fibromyalgia, and it turns out that pet therapy can also help significantly with those symptoms. People who engage in pet therapy report consistently lower levels of stress and anxiety than people who don’t. There’s something about stroking a companion animal that lends a level of comfort to people who are suffering.
And taking care of an animal also helps people with fibromyalgia get more involved in daily life. Taking the animal on walks or playing with them in the park are great ways to coax yourself out of bed. And that’s especially true on days when your fibro pain makes you want to just close the curtains and go to sleep. So, a therapy animal can even be a kind of link to the rest of the world when you have fibromyalgia.
So pet therapy can not only help you reduce your fibromyalgia pain, it can help you feel happier and less anxious.
How Can You Start?
If you’re interested in trying pet therapy for fibromyalgia pain, the first step is to find a pet therapist in your area. They’ll be able to bring a therapy animal to you in the hospital or at home.
Or if you prefer, you can also purchase your own animal that has been trained to be a therapy animal. There are lots of different breeders and trainers. And one should be able to help you find what you are looking for. A quick google search should be enough to find some in your area.
Finally, if you already have an animal, you can have them trained and certified as a therapy dog. This will help your dog learn how to provide comfort to you and to others. But certified therapy animals are also considered service animals. And that means you can legally bring them into restaurants or on flights.
So maybe you’re the kind of person who hates having to leave their loyal pet behind. Well, getting them certified to provide therapy means that you can get comfort from them anywhere you go. And that can be a great thing when you’re suddenly struck by a fibromyalgia flare-up during your daily routine.
Animals make great companions, and it turns out that they might actually be great for treating fibromyalgia pain too. So if you’re tired of trying side-effect riddled medications, some alternative pet therapy may just be for you.