Take Two Aspirin and Pet Fido In The Morning

Chronic pain is common and miserable. Four of every ten patients seeing their primary care doctor for an appointment have pain as a complaint, most commonly affecting the back, head, or joints.

Chronic pain can have a profound negative impact on a person’s life, with half of those with a chronic pain problem having the pain restrict their ability to do household chores, half having social activities limited, one-third having to change their job, and two in ten losing their job due to pain.

Chronic pain problems can be difficult to treat, with no quick fix or easy cure. Most patients need to use a wide range of treatments that often include medications, lifestyle adjustments, and non-drug therapies. Treatment often involves working with a team of pain experts, including doctors and nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and dieticians. A new study published this month in the journal Pain Medicine suggests a new addition to the pain management team–a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs have been trained to be quiet, calm, and soothing. Therapy dogs undergo extensive training and testing before they can be certified for therapy work. Typical therapy dog work involves the dog standing by or sitting with a patient and getting petted. It may not sound like this is much therapy, but many studies have proven spending time with a therapy dog produces measurable reductions in stress levels and the body’s stress chemicals. Therapy dogs have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression for hospital patients and nursing home residents.


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh investigated the impact of adding a trained therapy dog to an outpatient pain management clinic. Patients and those accompanying patients to their appointments (including their family and friends) were given an opportunity to spend their time waiting for appointments in the routine waiting room where a television and magazines were present or in a room with the therapy dog. Staff members were also permitted to spend free time visiting with the dog or sitting quietly in a room without the dog. Pain and distress were measured before and after dog visits that lasted for an average of 11 minutes. Nearly 300 visits were made with the therapy dog were compared with almost 100 waiting room stays. Patients, their friends and family, and the staff experienced significant reductions in stress, anxiety, sadness, and aggravation after spending time with the therapy dog, without significant changes occurring in the routine waiting room. Among those patients with moderate to severe pain, meaningful pain relief occurred following the dog visit for 26 percent of patients compared with only 3 percent of those waiting in the usual waiting room.

Clearly, spending time with a dog is not going to alleviate all of your pain problems, but this study suggests that complementary therapies — like a therapy dog visit — may be valuable additions to visits to healthcare providers. So the next time you’re waiting around in your doctor’s office, think about whether you might put that waiting time to therapeutic use and ask your doctor about potential complementary treatments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (17)
  • body
    6 years ago

    Along with pet therapy, there are many cpmplementary treatments that are thought to help reduce the body’s physical response to stress, promote relaxation, and stabilize serotonin levels, including, biofeedback, meditation, mind-body exercises, yoga, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, and healing touch.

  • That M Word: A Migraine Blog
    7 years ago

    My terrier AND my kitten are both so helpful. They reduce my stress which leads to less migraines and they take care of me when I’m sick. Great article (Hail to Pitt!)!

  • Alex Edwards
    7 years ago

    Persistent discomfort comes in various forms which enable it to occur from various scenarios for example traumatic injury, illness and professional medical illnesses like headaches, arthritis along with buff and skeletal situations. In past times, coping with long-term pain was an element that most victims were being reconciled to cope with. Developments in treatment even so have become the top hand on suffering therefore it may easily be easily operated by way of prescription medication and treatment.
    http://www.1wallmart.com/product.php?id_product=674 As outlined by lots of health-related options, constant discomfort means generally regular intense soreness that flare up regularly and doesn’t respond thoroughly to typical over-the-counter alleviation prescription drugs. http://www.1wallmart.com This type of soreness can be grouped as pain that takes a period of more than 6 months, is caused by not for-debilitating ailments if left unattended or controlled, can be knowledgeable for the lifetime of the individual struggling.

  • Laurie Cottman Collins
    7 years ago

    As a therapy dog handler, I was glad to see this article. When I visit the hospital, if I see people in the waiting rooms, I make sure I offer the people waiting a chance to pet my dog. It’s amazing how the dogs are able to lighten the mood, and it’s nice to see there’s actually proof of that! Patients, family members and staff all benefit from therapy dog visits. We visit several different venues and the dogs are always a big hit. Thanks for the article! 🙂

  • Dawn A Marcus
    7 years ago

    Oh my gosh — SO excited to meet another therapy dog handler.
    You might also be interested in my new book, The Power of Wagging Tails, that showcases the incredible work and magic of therapy dogs. Kudos to you and your pup! And if YOU have a special story you’d like to share, always posting therapy dog moments and photos at my blog at http://www.FitAsFido.com

  • Julie Snyder
    7 years ago

    My pup is most definitely one of the best therapies I have ever experienced!

  • Bethany Hamilton
    7 years ago

    Been thinking for couple of years about getting a dog, but never knew if right idea for my migraines. Best fit seems to be a pug, because takes on personality of owner, is small, and I’m allergic to all that hair.

  • Louise M. Houle
    7 years ago

    I had a non-shedding Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier who died last year. Best dog ever. Always comforted me when I had migraines. The allergy is triggered by the dander in the hair. The theory is that non shedding dogs produce less. But no dog is 100% allergen free. Good luck!

  • Linda Kurth Turner
    7 years ago

    Sorry, a pug actually sheds alot!! My daughter and also some other family members have them. I have a toy poodle. 5 lbs & no shedding; o 0

  • Tricia Lee Bond
    7 years ago

    I have a almost 3 year old lab pit mix that has never been trained for anything really. He is very smart and if I say sit he sit’t, if I say give me knuckles he will raise his paw and bump my fist. He is very calming and very loving, Harley allows me to have comfort in him. Harley will stay with me during my attacks and he will comfort me. He also without even being trained will alert me about 30 minuets before a Hemiplegic Migraine attack, OR a Migraine is coming. He also has woken me up in the middle of the night licking the side of my head the migraine will be coming on. If I am standing he will bump into me and whine at my feet. If I am sitting he will come and whine at me and bump into me almost obsessively. He gets very agitated and will start pacing the floor and he will go back and forth between my room and where I am, almost to tell me to go lay down. At first when he started this kind of behavior I thought he was nuts and after the second attack I realized that he was trying to worn me. Now I listen to him. It is true having an animal like him has lessened my anxiety and allows me to have peace of mind that he will always let me know something is going to happen and I can be prepared for it.

  • Tricia Lee Bond
    7 years ago

    Thank you Lea… I will look into that… I have tools on my computer that help me with comprehension and spelling. Basically I have a program that reads to me wile I follow along. I do have glasses but they are not colored. Thank you I will look at this page.

  • Lea Waske
    7 years ago

    Hi. I saw your post on The Doctor’s page. I am a certified Irlen Screener (hundreds of clients screened)and helped Please go to irlen.com. You will see that your symptoms, including migraine, are similar to those of severe Irlen Syndrome–same as Henry Winkler. Then check the Irlen website for a clinic near you. You will be amazed at what you will find. Good luck!

  • Tricia Lee Bond
    7 years ago

    Thank you Dawn. It worked this time..

  • Dawn A Marcus
    7 years ago

    Tricia Bond Here’s the direct link to the survey
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/migrainedogstudy

  • Tricia Lee Bond
    7 years ago

    I looked for that Dawn but I think the link is broken. I takes me to a page that has no information on it.

  • Dawn A Marcus
    7 years ago

    Fascinating! Hope you had a chance to participate in the migraine & dog survey listed on the bottom of today’s migraine.com blog. This is the first I’ve heard of a dog wake someone during an attack. Fascinating. Kudos to Harley for a job well done and to you, Tricia, for being open to recognizing what he’s doing!

  • Aileen Guerrissi
    7 years ago

    Harley!!! Love him
    And you.

  • Poll