Caffeine may act as an opioid adjuvant in fibromyalgia-like chronic pain patients, new research suggests. The data, published in the Journal of Pain Research , suggest caffeine consumption concomitant with opioid analgesics could provide therapeutic benefits not seen with opioids alone.
Caffeine’s properties as an analgesic adjuvant with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/paracetamol have already been documented. However, little clinical research has explored caffeine’s effects on opioid analgesia. This latest study assessed the effects of caffeine consumption on pain and other symptoms in 962 opioid-using and non-opioid-using patients with chronic pain.
In opioid users, caffeine consumption had modest but significant effects on pain, catastrophising, and physical function. Lower levels of pain interference were associated with low and moderate caffeine use compared to no caffeine intake. Lower pain catastrophising and higher physical function were observed in all caffeine dose groups relative to the no caffeine group. Lower pain severity and depression were observed only in the moderate caffeine group. In opioid non-users, low caffeine intake was associated with higher physical function; however, no other significant effects were observed.
The authors concluded that the absence of effects in opioid non-users suggests caffeine exhibits a weak but significant opioid analgesic adjuvant effect.