Animals and Pain Management
Fibromyalgia is associated with chronic pain that doesn’t usually have a simple cause. As a result, you may experience headaches, stiffness, muscle aches, and tenderness. Several studies show that animal companionship can help ease pain for these patients. In one instance, a Wheaten Terrier was placed in the waiting area for a chronic pain clinic. Over a third of patients who waited with the dog experienced a clinically meaningful reduction in pain.
While having a dog at home won’t eliminate pain entirely, it’s worth exploring this effect if you suffer from fibromyalgia. You may find that spending some quality time with a pet will help reduce your pain and bring it down to more manageable levels.
How Pets Help Anxiety
Anxiety is another common symptom for patients with fibromyalgia. Interacting with animals is a proven strategy for reducing tension and improving one’s mood. Physical contact with an animal can reduce your heart rate and help you feel calmer. While you can achieve this short-term effect with any animal you spend time with, there’s an added benefit when you own a pet.
Caring for a pet gives you a sense of responsibility that’s very rewarding and uplifting. Pets also encourage a regular schedule. They will give you a compelling reason to get out of bed and face the day when you may not want to otherwise. Additionally, the regular social action, constant companionship, and unquestioning loyalty of an animal are all powerful tools for combating depression, fatigue, and anxiety.
Riding for Fibromyalgia Therapy
Animal therapy goes beyond furry friends like cats and dogs. It can include horse riding therapy. Many people shy away from physical activities like riding when they’re suffering from fibromyalgia pain. Keep in mind that this isn’t always necessary. For some patients, engaging in particular types of exercise is an important component of their overall treatment plan. Riding therapy offers dual benefits.
It can provide much-needed exercise along with a therapeutic interaction with an animal. Riders can form a deep attachment with their horses. More importantly, they share many of the same soothing benefits that you can experience with other animals. Horses are very intelligent, expressive, and often human-like in their emotions. As such, forming and maintaining a strong bond with a horse can be a very therapeutic experience.
You can experience pet therapy in many different settings. Owning an animal gives you the most meaningful benefits. However, this isn’t the only option. If you’re not ready to adopt an animal of your own, try visiting with therapy dogs in clinics and hospitals. Owners with therapy dogs will bring their pets to various facilities to offer temporary therapy. As a result, you can decide whether you’d like a full-time companion to help with your fibromyalgia.