The musculoskeletal pain associated with fibromyalgia can make it difficult to focus on anything else, and this condition can be difficult to successfully manage with conventional treatments alone. For this reason, patients often supplement their care with alternative remedies, with one such option being pet therapy. Santa Monica spine surgeons examine a few of the potential ways pet therapy helps people living with fibromyalgia.
You don’t have to be an animal enthusiast to benefit from the therapeutic nature of engaging with dogs, cats, and other animals. Interactions can include 10 to 15-minute sessions a few times a week, group interactions with an assortment of pets, or simply spending time with pets you currently have at home. Pet therapy helps promote relaxation by:
- Decreasing blood pressure and heart rate
- Reducing production of the stress hormone cortisol
- Encouraging the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” hormones
- Promoting a healthy immune system
Pet therapy can shift attention enough to distract people from focusing exclusively on their pain, as evidenced by results from a study involving pet therapy for fibromyalgia patients in waiting room areas. The majority of people who interacted with pets were calmer and had a better mood. Pet therapy may also ease fibromyalgia symptoms by:
- Minimizing anxiety and stress
- Increasing focus and alertness
- Creating positive distractions
Supplements Other Treatments
Though beneficial, pet therapy isn’t meant to replace existing treatments. However, there is research suggesting patients who are less stressed or anxious about their condition tend to report less pain, which may reduce reliance on pain medications that have potentially serious side effects linked with long-term use.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, although stress-reducing activities like engaging with animals may provide welcome relief. Check with groups like Pet Partners to find a pet-assisted therapy program in your area or consider volunteering at a local animal shelter if you don’t have time to personally care for a pet.
If you are considering surgery to find relief for your fibromyalgia pain, get in touch with the professional spine surgeons at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We specialize in decompression, spinal fusion, and alternatives like Coflex back surgery. Give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to learn more.