Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder that affects more than three million people inside the United States each year. It is essential for individuals who struggle with the disorder to have a proper paln in place to keep the symptoms at a tolerable level and not let the pain hold them back from doing the things they love to do each day.
Many who have fibromyalgia find it difficult to live their daily life the way they want, and many have difficulties sleeping, staying in a good mood and participating in physical activities without pain. Fortunately, there are effective ways to overcome these symptoms each day. The treatment for fibromyalgia may look slightly different for each individual, although many find relief through a steady diet of exercise and stress management. Another useful and effective way to minimize the pain, ensure your treatment plan is followed properly and simply make life easier when living with fibromyalgia is to utilize a service dog, which is trained specifically to meet your needs each day.
By learning more about fibromyalgia, including the causes, symptoms and treatment options available, you can make an informed decision as to which treatment plan is right for you. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then you may be able to benefit from a service dog. The disorder should not hold anyone back from living life the way they want to, and everyone has the chance to make life easier through the use of a service dog that knows your needs and ensure you remain comfortable and safe throughout each day.
The following is everything to know about how a service dog can help you manage your fibromyalgia symptoms. We go into depth about when a service dog is helpful, and we provide useful insights into the process of getting a service dog to help you manage each day.
How a service dog can help people with fibromyalgia?
A service dog is often used by people suffering from fibromyalgia. If someone is in pain from fibromyalgia and find it hard to walk, service dogs will be there to steady them when needed. They can also scan the body to see which parts are the coldest and when it is nap or bedtime they will cuddle into you on that part of the body to keep you warm.
Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals which is why they work so well as service dogs. One woman spoke about how she couldn’t get out of bed one morning because there was a pillow in the way but she was in too much pain to move it. Her service dog saw that she was having difficulty, assessed the situation, and moved the pillow with the mouth out the way.
For all the common symptoms of fibromyalgia, service dogs can help make life that little bit easier. Symptoms from fatigue and muscle pain to depression, having a service dog will really improve your life. From something so little as sitting on your lap as you watch TV to finding cold spots, supporting mobility, and retrieving medicines, service dogs are truly amazing.
As pain is one of the major symptoms of fibromyalgia, this can have an impact on mobility. If someone is in pain when they walk, their mobility will be decreased and impaired. As the service dogs are highly trained, they are able to adapt to their users and provide the right amount of care.
If you are suffering from fibromyalgia or know someone who is, getting a service dog is definitely recommended. They provide the best type of emotional and physical care and support and will definitely improve the user’s life.
What is Fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are different for each individual, but there are some that are more prevalent than others. Several of the more common symptoms of fibromyalgia include but are not limited to the following:
- Widespread pain
- Muscle tenderness
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
The symptoms are typically not severe to the point it causes severe disability to the individual, but the chronic pain can cause individuals to not enjoy life they normally would. Many with fibromyalgia are often less social, less motivated to participate in physical activity and similar functions and have difficulty concentrating.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes severe pain in all parts of the body. Symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia can be affected by include: fatigue, muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping, headaches and IBS. The cause of fibromyalgia is currently unknown however it is linked to abnormal levels of specific chemicals in the brain which causes changes in the central nervous system including the brain spinal cord and nerves. It could also be passed on through genetics.
Big life events could also cause the condition to be triggered in the body. This could be caused by physical or emotional events like an injury, giving birth, operation or the death of a loved one. The condition can any age however the most common age is between 30 and 50.
There is no real treatment for fibromyalgia, however, there are a number of treatment methods that help relieve some of the symptoms. This helps to make the lives of the people living with fibromyalgia a little bit easier. Treatment can be in the form of medication to treat the pain and mental impact of the condition, talking therapies to help with the psychological implications and lifestyle changes including exercise, relaxation, and everyday routines to help lower the impact on the body. One of the most popular treatment methods is the use of a service dog.
What is a service dog?
It is helpful to have a full understanding of the differences between a service dog and a therapy dog or emotional support animal. A therapy dog is merely there to provide comfort, love and affection to those who are around. They typically do not have much, if any, special training and are not intended to assist individuals with conditions such as fibromyalgia.
An emotional support animal typically has more rights than a therapy dog – such as being exempt from pet policies in housing opportunities – but they are not as specialized as a service dog. While an emotional support animal is often recommended for individuals with mental health issues, they are not recommended for physical complications, whereas a service dog may be recommended for physical disorders such as fibromyalgia.
A service dog is a dog that has been trained to provide help and support to its owner. In the US, dogs can be trained to support all kinds of disabilities from physical to mental such as diabetes, autism, and fibromyalgia. They are trained to perform specific tasks and are classed as working dogs that should not be petted by the public when they are supporting their owner. They are allowed into buildings, shops and other places that pet dogs are not allowed into so they can provide 24/7 care and support.
Most people who have pets find that their dog or cat is extremely sensitive to pain and helps to comfort them when in discomfort. They often cuddle up and lie next to their owners, particularly when they think they are in pain. Pets can be great companions, they care help and support you as well as being a great security guard for your house. This is particularly handy for older people who may live alone, a dog will bark if there is something suspicious and could ward off a burglar. They are great for anyone living alone as they can keep them company and give them purpose and routine to their day.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
If you feel as if you may have fibromyalgia and could benefit from a service animal to help you with daily tasks and to serve as emotional support for symptoms related to mood, then the first step is to visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis. Each doctor has their own process for diagnosing patients, but there is a certain procedure most follow as it relates specifically to the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which often includes:
- Assess the symptoms
- Document medical history
- Order additional tests
- Rule out other possibilities
- Diagnosis & treatment recommendation
Perhaps the first thing the doctor will do is ask a series of questions to better determine the cause for the visit. Among the initial questions, the medical professional will want to know about the symptoms you are experiencing, such as chronic pain, issues with fatigue, etc. This allows him or her to better determine if the symptoms resemble that of fibromyalgia. He or she is likely to also ask about your medical history, including any medications you are currently taking, diagnoses that you have received in the past and other conditions that may be related.
The patient may also need various tests, including but not necessarily limited to a complete blood count, vitamin D levels and thyroid function tests. After collecting as much information as possible, the medical professional is able to rule out other similar complications and make an accurate diagnosis as to whether or not the symptoms are caused by fibromyalgia. He or she can then help the patient come up with a long-term treatment plan and provide a recommendation as to whether pursuing a service dog is appropriate.
How to get a service dog for fibromyalgia
While a service dog should not replace the medical treatment plan the patient and his or her doctor agree to, it is a great way to make living with fibromyalgia easier for many. So how do you go about getting a service dog for fibromyalgia? The first step is to talk to your doctor about the possibility. He or she can walk you through the pros and cons of doing so, and if you both determine it is helpful – which is often the case – then the process can begin.
There are two different ways to get a service dog. You can either purchase a dog that is already trained as a service dog, or you can have one specifically trained to be a service animal. If your needs are more extensive, then it is likely best to have the dog trained to meet your exact needs, although the cost will be higher and the wait time will be longer. If your symptoms are not severe and you only need a service dog that can help you with minor tasks each day and help you get the necessary attention when symptoms are at their worst, finding a well-trained service dog may be a better option.
However, simply because a dog is trained as a service dog and you have the proper approval from a medical professional does not mean the dog will have access to all the rights granted to service dogs. To complete the process, you must properly register your new companion. You can complete the entire registration process here at US Service Animals, and we can guide you through each step, answering any questions you may have along the way.
Once the registration process is complete, you will be provided with the proper documentation to ensure you and your service dog are protected and you are allowed to travel together in most public places.
How to find the right service dog
Like people, each dog is different. Some dogs are vibrant and full of energy, whereas others may have a more serious demeanor and be far more laid back. We encourage those who are getting a service dog to conduct proper research and find the right service dog for their needs and preferences.
One useful tip when choosing a service dog is to learn about your condition and the daily assistance you will need. As discussed previously, many with fibromyalgia find it difficult to move around, which causes many to stay at home more and not do the things they really want, whereas fibromyalgia with others may have more mental health effects than physical.
You should also consider the needs of the dog. Some dogs may need very little care other than feeding it properly, giving it some exercise and ensuring it is comfortable. Others may require more extensive exercise and have health concerns of their own to consider.
Also, some dog breeds are smarter than others. If you need a dog specifically trained to complete complex tasks each day, then choosing a smarter breed such as a german shepherd or labrador retriever is recommended.
After considering all factors, you should be in a position to make a proper decision as to the breed, age and personality of your service dog. We also encourage to ask questions throughout the selection process, and perhaps above all else, make sure your service dog is well mannered around others to ensure they are allowed on flights, in restaurants and in other environments where there will be others around.
The bottom line
Fibromyalgia does not have to hold you back from doing the things you love to do each day. With a service dog, you can live your life freely without the fear of pain taking over and affecting your ability to function or be in a good mood. In addition to the function benefits patients often receive, service dogs also provide emotional support, and they are simply a pleasure to have around each day.
If you currently have a service animal for fibromyalgia and want to register it officially, then fill out the service dog registration form on our website, and we can help you throughout the entire process and answer any questions you may have.