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Can Being With a Loved One Decrease Pain?

By Randi Morse 

It's always nice to spend time with the people you love, but it may be surprising to learn that spending time with a romantic partner can have some amazing health benefits. Simply touching the person we love can help relieve pain, and new research seems to conclude that just being around someone you love will reduce the amount of pain you're feeling. 

The Study 

One big study to test this theory began when researchers found 48 heterosexual couples who were willing to be volunteers. The average age of these partners was 25 years old and all the partners had been together for at least three years. The participants were requested to fill out a questionnaire and then were subjected to two painful experimental situations. During one of the situations they were on their own, while their partner was allowed to join them for the second experiment. When the partner joined during the second scenario they were not allowed to speak or touch their wife or husband. The researchers knew that there was already proof that touching a loved one reduces pain, they wanted to see if simply standing in the same room with a loved one would reduce pain. 

By using a pressure algometer the researchers determined that both men and women were able to tolerate pain much better when their romantic partner was in the same room with them. They also discovered that the more empathy the romantic partner had, the more pain the subject could tolerate. 

How Does It Work? 

While there is still a great deal of studying to be done, researchers believe that the natural dopamine that is released into the system whenever we interact with a romantic partner can act as a type of biological opioid. Some scientists liken it to what's known as a "runner's high," in which the athlete feels as though they are on some sort of illegal drug but are not. The dopamine that the body releases has an anesthetic effect and can numb and dull pain. The same high you feel when you're running is how you feel when you're with a romantic partner. Their mere presence can help you to feel more calm and more relaxed. 

So if you feel stressed or anxious, or if you are in a great deal of pain, it's often a good idea to give in to those impulses inside you that want your romantic partner with you. Imagine how much less pain medication you may need after a serious surgery simply by having your partner with you. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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