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Caffeine as an opioid analgesic adjuvant in fibromyalgia

Authors Scott JR, Hassett AL, Brummett CM, Harris RE, Clauw DJ, Harte SE

Received 10 February 2017

Accepted for publication 10 May 2017

Published 28 July 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 1801—1809


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

J Ryan Scott,1 Afton L Hassett,1 Chad M Brummett,1 Richard E Harris,1,2 Daniel J Clauw,1,2 Steven E Harte1,2

1Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology, 2Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Background: Caffeine’s properties as an analgesic adjuvant with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/acetaminophen are well documented. However, little clinical research has explored ca­ffeine’s effects on opioid analgesia. This study assessed the effects of caffeine consumption on pain and other symptoms in opioid-using and nonusing chronic pain patients meeting the survey criteria for fibromyalgia.
Materials and methods:
Patients presenting to a university-based pain clinic completed validated self-report questionnaires assessing symptoms. Patients (N=962) meeting the fibromyalgia survey criteria were stratified by opioid use and further split into groups based on caffeine amount consumed per day (no caffeine, or low, moderate, high caffeine). Analysis of covariance with Dunnett’s post hoc testing compared pain and symptom severity between the no caffeine group and the caffeine consuming groups.
Results: In opioid users, caffeine consumption had modest but significant effects on pain, catastrophizing, and physical function. Lower levels of pain interference were associated with low and moderate caffeine use compared to no caffeine intake. Lower pain catastrophizing 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 nonusers, low caffeine intake was associated with higher physical function; however, no other significant effects were observed.
Conclusion: Caffeine consumption was associated with decreased pain and symptom severity in opioid users, but not in opioid nonusers, indicating caffeine may act as an opioid adjuvant in fibromyalgia-like chronic pain patients. These data suggest that caffeine consumption concomitant with opioid analgesics could provide therapeutic benefits not seen with opioids or caffeine alone.

Keywords: caffeine, fibromyalgia, opioid analgesics, pain, analgesic adjuvant, chronic pain

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