Caffeine is associated with lower pain catastrophizing, greater physical function, and lower pain interference in patients taking opioids to manage fibromyalgia pain, according to results from a survey-based study published in the Journal of Pain Research.1

Investigators evaluated caffeine’s effects on pain in opioid users (n=568) and nonusers (n=394) with fibromyalgia, obtaining information from a validated survey designed to assess symptoms and medication or substance use information.

The researchers found overall caffeine intake in opioid users was associated with lower pain catastrophizing (P =.006) and greater physical function (P =.002). Compared with the no-caffeine group, low caffeine intake (≤1 cup/day) was associated with greater physical function (P =.003) and lower pain interference (P =.028). Patients who were in the moderate caffeine consumption group (1.5-2.5 cups/day) reported less pain severity (P =.041), higher physical function (P =.001), and lower depression (P =.024), compared with the no-caffeine group.

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In addition, patients in the high caffeine intake group (≥3-12 cups/day) had greater physical function (P =.015) and lower pain catastrophizing (P =.002) than patients not ingesting caffeine. Higher physical function was found in the low-caffeine group compared with the no-caffeine group in the opioid nonuser arm (P =.016).

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Although the investigators reported correlation, the cross-sectional nature of this research fails to report a causative component. The researchers point out that data collection by self-reporting presents potential for bias and underreporting of substance and medication use “due to perceived social stigma.”

Concomitant consumption of caffeine and use of opioid medications may provide therapeutic utility in patients with fibromyalgia-like chronic pain while offering “therapeutic benefits not seen with opioids or caffeine alone,” concluded the researchers.

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  1. Scott JR, Hassett AL, Brummett CM, Harris RE, Clauw DJ, Harte SE. Caffeine as an opioid analgesic adjuvant in fibromyalgia. J Pain Res. 2017;10:1801-1809.