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Caffeine Energy Drinks and Chronic Pain

Our United States pain specialists are often confronted with one very prominent question; How can I increase my energy levels even as I live with chronic pain? The easy answer is exercise and a proper diet. The answer that most people want to hear is energy drinks and coffee. With that said, nothing beats maintaining a healthy lifestyle, decreasing toxins, eating right, and exercising to keep energy levels high and stress low. However, energy drinks are all the rage right now, so let’s take a moment to evaluate how detrimental these drinks can be to your already compromised health.

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Caffeine and Chronic Pain

While many studies have shown how small amounts of coffee can be beneficial to our bodies in terms of decreasing the overall risk for certain cancers, Parkinson’s, and heart disease, it can also be detrimental for those who already suffer from chronic pain. Caffeine increases stress and tension, two of the main factors for increased pain in many of our United States patients.

“The effects of coffee drinking are long-lasting and exaggerate the stress response both in terms of the body’s physiological response in blood pressure elevations and stress hormone levels, but it also magnifies a person’s perception of stress” Caffeine’s Effects are Long-Lasting and Compound Stress – Duke Health

Large amounts of caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns, something that is crucial to keeping stress, tension, and pain levels low for our chronic pain patients. When the body is allowed to sleep and recover from the day’s events, pain decreases and the immune system is more capable of handling stress. However, when caffeine disrupts sleep patterns, increased pain and stress very possible results.

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Energy Drinks

Since Red Bull burst onto the market in 1997, energy drinks have been huge. They propose increased energy through supplements like taurine and extreme levels of vitamin B. But what are these supplements and are they even good for you?

The problem isn’t the taurine, which is naturally found in meats and fish, or the vitamin B, which is also a natural supplement that is found in nearly every food, or the ginseng, which has been found to actually relieve stress. The problem is the massive amounts of caffeine stored within energy drinks. While energy drinks are not regulated as other foods because they are sold as “dietary supplements,” they contain a great deal of caffeine that consumers might not know about. Energy drink companies do a wonderful job of distracting consumers from the caffeine amounts by focusing them on the supplements such as taurine and ginseng; the ‘natural’ energy-producing aspects of the drinks. However, it’s still the caffeine that does the trick:

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(The caffeine content is in milligrams per serving. Although serving sizes vary, Griffiths contends that most people will drink the entire can, whatever the number of ounces.)

  • Red Bull: 80 milligrams per 8.3-ounce serving
  • Tab Energy: 95 mg per 10.5-oz serving
  • Monster and Rockstar: 160 mg per 16-oz serving
  • No Fear: 174 mg per 16-oz serving
  • Fixx: 500 per 20-oz serving
  • Wired X505: 505 mg per 24-oz serving

In comparison, according to Griffiths:

  • Brewed coffee: 200 milligrams per 12-oz serving
  • Instant coffee: 140 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Brewed tea: 80 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Mountain Dew: 54 mg per 12 oz. serving
  • Dr. Pepper: 41 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Pepsi Cola: 38 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Coca-Cola Classic: 34.5 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Canned or bottled tea: 20 mg per 12-oz serving

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