People suffering from chronic pain often find the beginning and end of the day to be the most challenging parts of their routine. Getting going in the morning can be tough, and coffee provides the boost most need to get the day underway. What you may not realize, though, is that your morning cup of coffee may also offer benefits for chronic pain issues. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, providing the energy most crave, while also blocking receptors in the brain responsible for relaxation and pain relief. Adenosines are known to generate pain and are particularly active in those with chronic pain issues. It appears that moderate caffeine consumption (2-4 cups daily) can reduce some inflammatory pain and provide an energy boost. This connection is supported by the fact that caffeine is added to many over-the-counter pain relievers to facilitate a better dilation of blood vessels, which counteracts the excessive blood flow that causes pain in most cases. The mechanisms surrounding the relationship between caffeine consumption and pain relief is not entirely understood, though, but a few cautionary statements are necessary to ensure a chronic pain sufferer gets the most benefit from this interaction.
First, studies are specific in the fact that moderate caffeine consumption is tied to pain relief. Thus, drinking excessive amounts will not increase the pain-relieving effect in the body, and can in fact cause the opposite effect. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause anxiety and overstimulation, which can actually create more pain. Thus, caffeine consumption should be monitored to ensure an appropriate amount is ingested.
Second, according to some studies, even low caffeine consumption can actually inhibit the blockage of pain receptors. Consumption of a cup of coffee, tea, or piece of chocolate with less than 100 mg of caffeine may inhibit the effect of pain relievers. Thus, the lesson here is to pay attention to how you feel after consuming caffeine, and determine what amount works best for your body.
Chronic pain can be challenging, but arming yourself with as much information as possible about what may help is the best way to take control of your life.