Caffeine Reduces Muscle Pain

caffeine pain relief

Caffeine’s pain reducing qualities have long been known and researched.

In fact, caffeine is one of the main ingredients in such pain relievers as Excedrin and Anecin.

However, with caffeine and pain relief there is definitely a catch 22 situation.

Consuming occasional caffeine can be a great pain relief enhancer, BUT using caffeine everyday and then stopping caffeine can actually cause headache and muscle pain.

Let’s look at some of the research behind caffeine and it’s pain relieving qualities.

Pain Relief and Caffeine Research

1. The University of Georgia has found that a moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) can reduce post-workout pain by up to 48%.

Anyone who has ever done any weight training is familiar with the pain of sore muscles. It’s particularly nasty if you are new to exercise (or have laid off for a while).

This research was small and for some reason they only tested women. Not only this – but the women were not regular caffeine users – so perhaps the effect might be reduced in those who are regular caffeine drinkers.

“A lot of times what people use for muscle pain is aspirin or ibuprofen, but caffeine seems to work better than those drugs, at least among women whose daily caffeine consumption is low,” O’Connor said.

Read the abstract here.

2.  The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that wanted to see if caffeine acted a pain relieving adjuvant. In other words, if it could increase the effectiveness of other drugs while using less of the other drug.

They concluded that when caffeine was combined with other pain relievers, 40% less of the other drug was needed to bring the same amount of relief experienced with using just the non-caffeine drug alone.

Read the abstract here.

3.  A study published in a 2003 issue of The Journal of Pain showed that caffeine can also reduce muscle pain during moderate intensity exercise.

Some participants were given large doses of caffeine prior to cycling exercise, others were not. The caffeine group had significant less muscle pain during the exercise than the placebo group.

This may also explain why caffeine is used as an endurance aid for athletes.

Read the abstract here.

4. New research out of Brazil, which was conducted by Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology and the University of Brasilia (UNB) isolated a protein in coffee beans that is similar to morphine, but works even better. Note that this is separate from the caffeine compound’s pain relieving effect. They are currently doing further research concerning this protein and its pain relieving applications.

Read their news release here.

Caffeine Tolerance Makes a Difference

If a person consumes caffeine everyday, then the only way to experience caffeine’s pain relieving effect is to consume a dose greater than the daily amount he or she has been accustomed to.

Since people build up a tolerance to the caffeine molecule, habitual caffeine more or less maintains a sense of normality.

This is why such severe withdrawal symptoms can be experienced when the daily dose is missed. There is a drastic departure from what normal feels like and pain, therefore ensues.

How to experience the most pain relief from caffeine?

  1. Don’t consume caffeine everyday, but only when pain relief is needed.
  2. Consume the same amount of caffeine everyday and extra when pain relief is desired.
  3. Don’t miss your daily dose if you’re a habitual caffeine consumer.

Caffeine can be used as a way to reduce and manage muscle pain as well as other pain, but it seems to only be effective when the above guidelines are followed.


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  • Billy

    what? maybe true but this article could have a bit more info… i don’t think it was proven well but interesting non the less!

  • Rhonda

    The first few years I had fibromyalgia, I noticed that caffeine made my muscle pain go away. I had no clue why, and neither did my doctor. I experimented with the theory many times on myself, and it proved to be true. But now, my fibromyalgia is more severe and caffeine doesn’t seem to make a difference. Bummer!

  • Ted

    Once you build up a tolerance to caffeine it’s no longer effective unless you keep consuming larger and larger daily doses.

  • Wacky

    Thanks for this informative post. I think caffeine plus exercise and an occasional massage could help you with your muscle pains. Check out they provide excellent massages to help you feel relaxed and free from muscle pain.

  • DBomb

    This article is crap. Indeed the oposite is true.Caffeine causes muscle stres. Lake of Stage 4 sleep and high cortisol levels.All of which cause pain.

  • Jacquie

    I thought actually drinking coffee everyday was helping with my migraines – I think it was for awhile. Now I have migraines and pain in my neck, hands and feet. I hate to go to bed knowing in the morning I’ll hurt everywhere.

  • 63R01d

    Caffeine does help with headaches and pain. But its a catch 22 usually. This is because the headaches are usually caused by caffeine withdrawal. So its a circle that feeds off itself. But if you do have a normal headache thats not caused by withdrawal it also helps from what I’ve experienced.

  • Tara Drolma

    I have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and I think a very moderate amount helps me to feel better. I am experimenting to determine what amount of caffeine is helpful. Too much will definitely cause jitters and anxiety and has the potential to disrupt sleep. Black tea does not seem to have the same effect. The trick is not to let tolerance develop. I also use cannabis and the body develops tolerance to that as well. When that happens you you need to take a break. It seems coffee tolerance is very similar. However with cannabis my body tells me when to take a break or cut down. the trick is to aim for the minimal dose that delivers a benefit. It is an individual amount and requires trial and error. This is a great site, thank you

  • Ted

    you’re welcome! I’m so glad you found it useful.

  • Tara Drolma

    I have found it useful and I shared the information about children and caffeine with my daughter-in-law and others. It is especially important for us to be aware of the hidden ingredients in all of the products we now consume, especially for children.

  • Steph

    Rhonda, you could always do a “caffeine detox” and go off of it completely for a while, then try it again to see if you get relief. If you’ve built up a tolerance that is. Good luck!

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  • Karen Hicks

    I think I have been having a bad reaction to drinking coffee and tea. Im tired and sick all of the time. Im under a doctors care I am constantly in pain.
    So im going to try and quit taking it for a few days and see if that helps/

  • Sieglinde Proctor

    Yippee! I am so glad to find this article, as I was thinking it was all in my head or something. I usually drink one cup of coffee in the morning. I find that when I drink a second cup with my lunch or anytime during the day, the pain, stiffness, and also the fatigue is lessened about 80%. I have more flexibility, feel much younger and have more energy to do things. In short, I can MOVE without feeling that I am in a painful straight jacket with concrete shoes. I just finished my second cup for the day, and already am feeling better. Nothing I have found brings me this much relief. And it is extra wonderful knowing that there are no stomach problems as with OTC pain medication or prescriptions. I hope this information is shared.

Last Modified: January 27, 2015