How People With Chronic Pain Might Benefit From Pets

December 27, 2022

Summary: Chronic pain is widespread, and medications may sometimes fail to provide sufficient relief. Moreover, people living with chronic pain also live with other mental health issues and comorbidities. Studies show that pets can help in chronic pain management in multiple ways. For example, pets can help divert attention, make you more active, help reduce cortisol and be a good companion in difficult times.

Millions of people around the world have different pets, and nowadays, they are rightly called companion animals. The reason why people keep pets is that they help them emotionally. Their relevance is increasing, especially considering that people have fewer children these days and smaller families. Pets can fulfill many emotional needs of humans, and thus it is a dual-sided relationship.

However, now studies suggest that pets can also be quite good for those living with chronic pain and also helpful in cases of sciatica nerve pain treatment. There are many ways in which pets may help such individuals. After all, now science realizes that management of chronic pain is more than just treating the pain. It is also about emotional disorders, mood issues, poor sleep, a higher risk of metabolic disorders, and more. People with chronic pain are also more likely to be living with comorbidities.

During difficult times people need some attention, some kind of interaction. However, quite often, people in pain are unable to socialize. In many instances, having a pet may help provide much-needed relief. 

Pets can be such an effective non-pharmacological therapy in chronic pain treatment and management because such pains are associated with so many other issues, including mental health problems.

Pets like dogs and cats are especially good for those living with chronic pain, and sciatica nerve pain as they quickly form an emotional bond with their human companions. In addition, pets are always near to provide much-needed emotional support and may help prevent anxiety and panic attacks. 

Moreover, pets like dogs can feel when their human companions are in distress, and they can immediately make people feel better. So, they are always there to calm you down.

Unlike children, people have lower expectations from pets. Instead, they focus more on enjoying their time with pets. As a result, people are generally quite caring and appreciative towards pets, which may help them forget about their pains. 

Pets can be pretty helpful during those days when you are having flares of arthritis or fibromyalgia. Pet is always near providing you with the much-needed company. After all, companion animals are not in any hurry to go somewhere and are happy to stay by your side for hours together. Pets can provide much-needed love and comfort during those difficult times and can become an important part of your life.

There are other ways in which pets help. They help distract you from your pain or other health issues. Pets can help you stay active. Companion animals require much care, and one has to go out with them, play with them, and they slowly become an important part of your life. This may ultimately have a beneficial impact both on physical and mental health. 

Moreover, when a person takes care of someone else, there is less time left to worry about one’s own pain. Over time, this may alter specific body responses, cause brain changes, and thus help overcome pain.

Further, it seems that pets can help lower cortisol levels, which is quite helpful in some health conditions. For example, in recent years, doctors have understood that many chronic pain conditions are due to prolonged stress and high cortisol levels. One of the studies found that petting a therapy dog for merely 10-15 minutes causes a measurable decline in cortisol levels in the blood.

There were many case reports when patients reported significant benefits from pain after adopting a pet. In addition, pets may help fasten recovery from more severe ailments and injuries.

Therefore, doctors say that if you have the means to adopt a pet, it is one of the best things you can do, especially if you are living with chronic pain. Treatment of conditions such as sciatica nerve pain and similar chronic pain becomes easier with a companion. Moreover, there are many animals in need of good homes. 

By Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA, MHP