An estimated 100 million U.S. adults experience chronic pain, a condition influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors that is usually and optimally managed by treatments that address not only its biological causes but also its psychological and social influences and consequences. These causes and symptoms can be alleviated by these treatments, but the treatments and quality of life of the patient can be greatly improved when they have an emotional support animal by their side. From the release of oxytocin to the reduction of PTSD symptoms and even the ability to increase sociability while reducing pain, emotional support pets have been proven to aid in the treatment and healing of those with long-term pain.
The Physical Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal
Anybody who has owned a pet, whether experiencing chronic pain or not, will know that a pet comforts you and at the same time takes you out of yourself as you care for them. This is one of the key benefits of an emotional support animal as it allows you to focus on something other than the pain you are experiencing. Therapy dog visits have not only been shown to be effective in treating various types of unexplained chronic pain, but researchers have also found that they can significantly reduce self-reported pain, fatigue, and emotional distress. Emotional support animals of these types work wonders for physical pain as they can decrease the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, help reduce the stress, boost endorphins, and act as a natural benefit to the immune system. In addition, people living with chronic pain have limited mobility, making an emotional support animal a great option in terms of receiving help with everyday chores as well as physical and emotional support and care.
Utilizing Pet Support Along with Other Types of Therapy
Certain types of activities, treatments, and care can be done with the support of an animal. However, the best types of long-term therapy treatments for people with chronic pain can involve physical therapy, neuropathy and other more involved treatments that can, combined with the support of an assistance animal, have compounding effects. Topical treatments and medicine might be required in various types of neuropathy treatment, which emotional support animals can’t necessarily help with, but they can continue to help the patient receive care and love when they’re back at home, increasing the effects of the treatment itself. In regards to physical therapy, studies have shown that emotional support animals can increase the effects when they are included in this type of therapy and recovery with children and adolescents.
Combining the Best of Both Worlds
There’s no doubt that emotional support pets offer great relief, support, and aid for people who experience chronic pain. They not only have the ability to reduce anxiety, stress, and physical pain itself, but they can help with chores and other tasks that people with reduced mobility might have trouble completing. The emotional and physical support an assistance animal can provide is a great way to engage in a form of treatment side-by-side with other forms of therapy that can work together to combat the pain.