Fighting with your spouse can make chronic pain worse

Fighting with your spouse not only puts you in a bad mood but could also increase chronic pain for arthritis and diabetes patients.

This is according to a new study by the Penn State Center for Healthy Aging.

Close to 300 married people with arthritis and diabetes were studied and the findings revealed that it took only one fight for these people to experience worse pain symptoms for a couple of days.

The interesting thing about the study was the fact that a full-blown argument did not have to occur for these chronic patients’ symptoms to worsen. Even just a little tension within the relationship made things worse.

How the study was conducted

Two groups of people were examined.

One group had 145 patients that suffered from knee osteoarthritis while the other consisted of 129 patients with types 2 diabetes. Both groups studied of course included their spouses.

The participants were challenged to keep a record of their mood on a daily basis, to record the severity of their symptoms and also indicate whether their interactions with their spouses were positive or negative.

From the results recorded, the study concluded that the spouses that suffered from chronic conditions experienced worse pain when faced with any form of marital strain.

The two studied chronic conditions in the study were diabetes and arthritis with the diabetes patients keeping diaries (for recording purposes) for 24 days and arthritis patients keeping them for 22 days.

Lead author of the study Professor Lynn Martire explained that the symptoms of chronic illnesses usually worsen on a daily basis and stress or marital tension can be a contributing factor.

“This almost starts to suggest a cycle where your marital interactions are more tense, you feel like your symptoms are more severe, and the next day you have more marital tension again,” she explained.


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