caffeine and chronic pain

Do you know how your favourite hot drink influences your memory, coordination, and anxiety? Furthermore, is there a link between caffeine and chronic pain? Let us find the facts on these important aspects which are relevant to your ability to function and live with your chronic pain condition.

Regular consumption of coffee leads to functional brain changes

A new imaging study has revealed that regularly drinking coffee can lead to functional changes within the brain. According to the study, connectivity within the limbic and somatosensory resting states is reduced in those who regularly drink coffee. This suggests that coffee drinkers have improved alertness and motor control.

The researchers compared the minds of coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. After consuming a cup of coffee, non-coffee drinkers experienced similar connectivity and structural changes. This provides compelling evidence that coffee increases focus and alertness.

How caffeine affects the body

Regular consumption of caffeine doesn’t just impact the mind. It can also have an effect on the body too. While research has shown it to be beneficial in boosting alertness and focus, it can also have negative impacts too.

Some of the main ways caffeine can affect the body include:

  • It can trigger headaches
  • Negative impact on sleep
  • It increases the heart rate
  • It can lead to chest pain

Drinking too much caffeine is also known to trigger anxiety. So, while it can have positive effects on the mind, when drunk in excess, caffeine can also lead to negative side effects.

Is there a link between caffeine and chronic pain?

The link between caffeine and chronic pain is complex. In some ways, it is thought to improve the symptoms of chronic pain, while in others it has been shown to make it worse.

The trouble comes when you drink excess amounts of caffeine. Too much has been shown to lower your pain threshold, trigger muscle spasms, and generate a physical dependence on caffeine. It can also increase feelings of anxiety, anger, and stress. This in turn can lead to increased pain.

Addressing the link between anxiety and chronic pain, Dr Stoilova states:

“The link between anxiety and chronic pain is not straightforward, meaning that there is no proportionate increase in reported pain with increased anxiety. Then there are specific cardiovascular effects of caffeine in tea and coffee which are beneficial. Some of the symptoms related to chronic pain are made better, but others can be made worse.”

So, there is some evidence to suggest that excess caffeine consumption can worsen chronic pain symptoms. However, moderate amounts could prove beneficial and can even deliver health benefits. A study found that drinking both tea and coffee can reduce your risk of dementia and strokes.

Treating chronic pain

Overall, caffeine is known to have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. In moderate amounts, it can prove beneficial to our health. However, when consumed in excess it could be causing your chronic pain to worsen.

If you feel that your caffeine habits are out of control and might be contributing to your pain, or if you need help to manage your condition, it is important to seek help. With the right support and treatments, you can avoid other detrimental health conditions from developing.

If you are struggling to manage chronic pain, call 01633 820 300 to book a consultation with the pain expert, Dr Ivanova-Stoilova at her Pain Clinic in Newport. Following a comprehensive physical examination and medications review, she will provide an individualised treatment plan.