New study says stonewalling in arguments can heighten back pain risk

If you're holding in your feelings during marital spats, you could be hurting your back. A new study published in the journal Emotion found that emotionally shutting down or "stonewalling" during a fight can predispose people to back pain or stiffness.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University based these findings on 20 years of data, while controlling for age, education and lifestyle. They found that the link between emotions and pain and other health problems was stronger in husbands than wives, but all types of spouses demonstrated the association.

"Our findings reveal a new level of precision in how emotions are linked to health, and how our behaviors over time can predict the development of negative health outcomes," Robert Levenson, UC Berkeley psychologist and senior author of the study, said in a statement.

Lead Author Claudia Haase added that the researchers were able to deduce 20 years of health outcomes from the emotional behaviors in a 15 minute fight. The study also discovered that raging during conflicts heightens the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

While these study results do uncover important new details about the causes of back pain, emotional stress has long been associated with the onset of that kind of discomfort. It's further evidence that back problems need interdisciplinary care to improve. Treatments like chiropractic care are known for addressing these multifaceted aspects of back pain.

If your emotions are worsening or causing your back pain, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.