3 years ago

Back Pain Causes Anger – Don't Let It Ruin Your Close Relationships

Anger caused by chronic pain can destroy your relationships if you're not careful, so learn how to keep harmony in your household here.

Back pain causes anger

We’ve all been there haven’t we? 

You wake up in the morning and the first thing you feel is the pain in your back. 

It makes even the thought of getting out of bed painful. 

In fact, you feel ten years older than you actually are and you know then and there that the day ahead will be a struggle. 

Then your back pain continues nagging away at you on the drive to work. 

So even though it's not even 9am yet your pain has already taken over your body as well as your thoughts. 

And the result of this?

You feel helpless and frustrated. And then you get angry. 

This anger follows you throughout your workday and takes all the enjoyment out of working.

And as a consequence your work suffers, as do your relationships with your fellow workers. 

Because you’re not just in pain, you’re a pain to be around too.

But you can't snap out of it because your pain is just getting worse as the day goes on, which makes you even angrier and more frustrated.

So by the time you get home you’ve had a hell of a day and you’re left in a foul mood.

And who bears the brunt of that? Your nearest and dearest of course.

As you take out all your pent up anger and frustration on your partner, family, and friends.

And this becomes so common that they end up walking on eggshells around you knowing that even the slightest thing can end with you snapping at them.

So now your anger hasn't just ruined your workday, it's also created a toxic atmosphere at home too.

Which results in a foul evening to round off a foul day.

And as bedtime approaches you may feel glad that this nightmare day is almost over.

However, your partner isn’t speaking to you and your back pain isn’t getting any easier.

But tomorrow’s another day right?

Well yes for most people. 

But for people with chronic back pain these days can become an all too regular occurrence.

And this is a big problem because studies have shown that by becoming angry you are highly likely to increase the levels of back pain that you feel.

While alienating your friends and family may cause them to withdraw their support, which you desperately need to deal with your pain.

But the good news is it doesn't have to be this way.

Because by changing how you think about your pain you can drastically reduce it's power over you, making you far less angry in the process.

And rather than causing problems in your relationships, living with chronic pain can strengthen and deepen them.

As by including your loved ones in your battle you become a team and can make each others lives a heck of a lot easier.

And it’s not just me saying this either, as it's been backed up in various scientific studies.

So read on and learn how you can make days like the one described above a thing of the past.

Just like I have.

Here's Why Chronic Pain Makes You Angry

why does pain make you angry?

"So what you’re saying is that being in constant pain will make me angry? No s**t Sherlock!"

Well yes, it does seem pretty obvious doesn’t it?

However, many scientific studies have been undertaken that prove this beyond any doubt (if you had any!).

As living with chronic pain has been found to make even the calmest and laid-back of people express more anger because of it.

And the really bad news is that becoming angry is also likely to lead to you experiencing more physical pain.

So it can become a vicious circle.

But why does chronic pain make you angry?

Well let's take a look at the science, as a review of studies into anger seen in people with chronic pain was able to highlight three reasons for it:

  • 1. Goal frustration - you get angry when you think your pain stops you from doing what you want to do in life.
  • 2. Blaming others - when you blame other people or external situations and events for your pain it only breeds resentment, bitterness, and anger within you.
  • 3. The feeling of injustice - chronic pain is random and unfair, but feeling sorry for yourself will just make you feel angry and frustrated.

So let's go through each of these in more detail.

1. Goal Frustration

The first finding was that people became angry when their pain was stopping them from doing the things in life that they wanted to do.

And this is a frustration I'm sure we’ve all experienced right?

However, this frustration can be even higher when your pain is stopping you from doing something which defines how you identify yourself.

In my case it was not being able to play football anymore which did it for me. 

As before my back problems my life had been defined by playing football.

It was what I was best at, how I thought of myself, and it was also how others thought of me too.

So a lot of my self-respect and self-esteem was tied into my ability to play football and I could feel the respect I gained from others for this too. 

So when my pain made it impossible for me to carry on playing I suffered badly.

As I felt frustrated beyond words and totally helpless.

And as a result I became really angry.

Because my whole sense of self-worth was tied into this identity as a good football player which I could no longer claim to have.

And when it was taken away from me it left me feeling completely lost.

This anger at a loss of identity caused by pain is common and can apply to so many areas of your life.

For example, you may struggle if you are no longer able to do the job that you define yourself by. 

As how do you go from being a plumber for 30 years to not being able to do it anymore?

Or maybe you pride yourself on being a hands-on parent and doing fun outdoor stuff with the kids.

How do you cope if your back pain means you are no longer able to be the active parent you define yourself as?

If you can't be the one playing sports or going on hikes or taking them swimming?

How do you adjust to that?

It’s hard.

And it can make you angry and resentful if you're not careful.

2. Blaming Others

Don't play the blame game when it comes to your pain.

Blaming other people or situations, events, or even fate for your chronic pain will only breed anger, bitterness, and resentment.

As it will eat at your insides in an unhealthy way. 

And it can leave you feeling out of control, helpless and wallowing in self-pity.

It has also been shown that people who blame others for their pain are more likely to suffer emotional distress than those who accept their fate.

And we’ve got enough to deal with already without adding that to our list of woes right?

So don’t do it to yourself.

3. The Feeling Of Injustice

When life gives you lemons don't wallow, give it the finger instead.

We all know that chronic pain isn’t fair.

In fact, not being fair is an understatement.

It's a random sh*tstorm that you are left to deal with everyday of your life mostly through no fault of your own.

So I'm sure we've all asked ourselves the same things in our darker moments such as:

  • "Why did this have to happen to ME?"
  • "What did I do to deserve this?"
  • "Why do I have to live the rest of my life like this when others don't?"

These are questions that no-one can give us an answer for.

Because the harsh truth is we’ve just been dealt a duff hand.

But take a look around you. 

Life isn’t fair!

And there are millions of people suffering in many different ways every single day.

In fact, they suffer fates far worse than having chronic back pain and they still manage to get on with their lives.

So don't go down the 'woe is me' route.

Because if you allow yourself to stew on your own misfortune then anger and resentment will never be far away.

And hanging onto the injustice of the situation has been found to harm the long-term physical and mental health of people with chronic lower back pain.

So you need to find a way to accept your fate and let go if you are going to stop the anger from rising.

And I'll give you an idea of how to do this now.

How To Avoid Anger Caused By Persistent Pain

how to get rid of anger

You may think that the best way to get rid of anger caused by chronic pain is by releasing it.

As it's better out than in right?

But I’ve already mentioned how people with chronic pain commonly express that anger by taking it out on those closest to them.

And how this is unhealthy for all concerned.

So what's the answer? Do you need to bottle it up and hold your anger in instead?

Well, no, as studies have found that holding the anger in is just as bad for your well-being as letting it out.

Because it was found that they both lead to more muscle tension in your lower back.

And this increased muscle tension led to higher pain levels which meant they were less physically able in the hours that followed.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

“So I can’t let my anger out or hold it in without increasing my pain. What the hell am I supposed to do?!”

It's a good question!

And the answer is you need to cut it off at source and stop it this anger from developing in the first place.

As it's really important to nip anger in the bud if you're going to get rid of persistent back pain.

And you can do this by changing how you think about your pain experience.

As negative thoughts and beliefs give your pain increased power, prominence and importance and are a massive contributor to higher pain and anger levels.

So you need to work on the mental side of your experience of pain.

And there are 3 proven anger management strategies that will help you to achieve this which are:

Each of these have been shown to be effective in preventing anger from pain from rising in the first place.

So you won't need to be in the no win situation of not being able to express it or hold it in.

Click here to find out more about these 3 anger management strategies.

How To Prevent Anger From Ruining Your Relationships

So by now you know why chronic pain can make you angry and how that anger is likely to lead to even more pain.

But the effects of anger on your relationships can be just as severe.

Now we all know that suffering from chronic pain is tough.

And it can be an isolating experience that leaves you feeling like you are struggling all alone at times.

But this is where our friends and family have a massive part to play. 

Because we need their love and support to be able to successfully manage our chronic pain.

As these supportive relationships have been shown to be vital for a person with chronic pain’s long-term physical and mental health and well-being.

So if your relationships start to suffer because of your anger it can really take it's toll on your health.

And we all want to have others caring about us and helping us to deal with the tough times that come with our condition right?

Especially when we're in pain.

However, the anger that can arise when living with chronic pain can drive a wedge between even the strongest relationships.

With studies showing that the more angry a person with chronic pain becomes the less support they receive from their partner.

And this isn't just bad for your well-being, it's bad for your partner’s well-being too.

As partners of angry people with chronic pain have were said to feel more sad, anxious and angry themselves when they were around their partner.

And they were also more prone to depression too.

So getting angry doesn't just lead to more physical pain and less support for you.

It's also going to be damaging to the people you love.

Which makes it an issue that needs addressing sharpish.

Because no-one wants to make their loved ones feel this way right? 

However, your anger can take it's toll and lead to resentment from your family and friends.

Because don't forget, your chronic pain isn’t just affecting your own life is it.

It’s also affecting your life as a couple or family too.

As the lifestyle you once enjoyed together will have changed because of your condition.

Because you may not be as active as you once were and maybe can't enjoy the things you used to.

Also the person they fell in love with may have changed into an angry and depressed version of their former selves.

Which isn’t what they signed up for and this can create hostility towards you in your relationship. 

Which is bad news as living in a hostile atmosphere at home has been shown to increase pain levels.

Because when we feel our partners are being hostile or critical towards us our pain levels increase. 

And the more signs of pain we outwardly show, whether through anger, moaning, or sulking, the more our partner will become hostile towards us.

Nightmare right?

So how can you break this vicious circle?

And how can you maintain a healthy and happy relationship and home environment despite being in constant pain?

It's Good To Talk

Now I’ve told you the bad news let me tell you the good news.

Which is that while chronic pain can put a strain on even the best of relationships it doesn’t have to be that way.

And the really good news?

You can make the difference!

Let me explain.

We expect a lot from our partners, close friends and family but they’re not mind readers. 

So how can you expect someone who has never experienced what it feels like to live with chronic pain to understand exactly what you're going through?

I mean think back to before your problem began.

Could you have imagined what it was going to be like back then?

I know I couldn't.

So how can you get angry and frustrated at your loved ones for not understanding how you feel if you don't explain it to them?

Now I know that coping with chronic pain is hard.

As it can be a mental and physical struggle to get through each day and it’s a struggle that never ends.

And it can feel like an intensely personal struggle at times, so we think that it’s our problem and we’ll deal with it right?

But the way some people deal with it is by pushing it to one side. Ignoring it. Burying it.

And if this is you then the last thing you probably want to do when you get home from a tough day at work is to talk about your pain with your partner right? 

But communication really is the key to creating a harmonious home environment.

Because by sharing what you are going through and the struggles you are experiencing you are giving your loved ones an insight into exactly what it is that you're dealing with.

And this is gold.

Because rather than isolating yourself you are including them in your pain battle.

So rather than cutting them out and becoming angry at them for interfering or not understanding, let them know how you are feeling.

And I'm not saying you need to get into constant deep and emotional conversations here.

But by doing things such as:

  • Telling them that you are feeling in more pain than usual that day.
  • Apologising in advance if you are a bit grumpy.
  • Letting them know your bad mood is because of your pain not because of anything they have done.
  • Suggesting you do something together to take your mind off the pain.
  • Letting them know how important they are and that their support is vital to you.

You are including them in your battle.

And taking on the problem together can strengthen your relationships rather than putting a strain on them.

Because by gaining an understanding into what you are going through your loved ones will also find it far easier to show empathy and tolerance towards you on your bad days.

And it has been shown that when people with chronic pain feel that their spouse is being empathetic and understanding towards them they feel less pain.

So it's worth learning how to communicate properly.

As this will help to improve your overall well-being and the health of your relationship.

Not to mention how much happier your partner and family will be as well.

So remember that chronic pain is not only tough on you, it's also hard on your loved ones.

Which means we need to be able to support each other and this all boils down to good communication.

Don't Forget To Have A Laugh Together

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

And when it comes to living with chronic pain a little humour can go a long way.

For instance, a study on married couples with one spouse that had chronic lower back pain looked at how their interactions with each other affected how satisfied they were with their marriages.

And also the effect it had on the amount of pain that the partner with chronic pain felt.

Well as you’d expect interactions involving anger, contempt and sadness made both partners feel dissatisfied in their marriage.

And it also increased the pain levels felt by the partners with chronic pain.

It even caused their partners to show signs of depression in some cases.

However, on the flip side it was found that humorous interactions led to both partners feeling more satisfied in their marriage.

And this helped to lower the pain levels in the spouse with chronic pain.

But there’s a kicker.

As this was only the case when the humour was instigated by the partner with chronic pain. 

Because when it was instigated by their partner it actually led to more anger and pain in the person with chronic pain.

As it seems that the partner with chronic pain was perceiving their partners attempts at light-hearted humour as a sign that they weren’t taking them or their pain seriously enough!

And I'm sure we can all relate to that.

I know I can get a little touchy about my pain at times!.

However, when the humour originated from the partner with chronic pain this was all turned on its head. 

As it made both partners happier by easing the tension of a difficult situation and making it easier for the partner to feel able to offer their support.

So it’s down to us to take the initiative and be open and honest with our partners, friends and family.

As by including them in your pain battle and allowing them to help you.

While having a little laugh along the way.

You will not only improve and maintain your relationships, you will also improve the mental and physical well-being of everyone concerned.

And that’s not a bad thing to have in your control is it?

Rounding Up

As people with chronic pain we are more in danger of becoming angry than others.

Because being in constant pain can make you feel frustrated and this causes anger.

However, by becoming angry you are only causing yourself more pain.

And outwardly expressing this anger or holding it in increases your pain levels and can alienate your family and friends.

Leaving you without a support network which is vital for your well-being.

So you need to learn how to prevent this anger from arising to break this vicious circle.

And also learn to communicate with and include your loved ones in your pain battle so you can make it easier for them to support you.

So hopefully some of the ideas here will prove helpful to you in creating and maintaining a healthy and happy home environment.

Let me know in the comments box if you have any experiences of this yourself or if there is anything you'd like to add.

And good luck!

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I'm a psychology graduate and a veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help people learn how to fight back against persistent back pain just like I have.

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