The Role of Caffeine in Pain Management: A Brief Literature Review

Anesth Pain Med. 2016 Mar 26;6(3):e33193. doi: 10.5812/aapm.33193. eCollection 2016 Jun.


Context: Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive legal drug in the world. Caffeine's role in controlling pain has received less attention in the past, yet is being increasingly considered. This article briefly reviewed the literature to clarify the role of caffeine as a drug for pain control and attract investigators to this topic.

Evidence acquisition: The data on Caffeine as an adjuvant therapy or as a main component for pain modulation has been narratively reviewed.

Results: Caffeine plays an important role in pain modulation through their action on adenosine receptors which are involved in nociception. The use of caffeine as adjuvant treatment was well-established in the literature and caffeine is currently available in some over the counter medications. Studies showed controversial results about the interaction between caffeine and morphine for pain relief in patients with terminal stage cancer. As a main component for pain modulation, Caffeine can be used for hypnic headache and postdural puncture headache.

Conclusions: Caffeine has a potential role for pain modulation. Current evidence on caffeine use for migraine and terminal stage cancer is not well-established. Future studies should address the use of caffeine alone for different types of pain with dose escalation and standardization of outcome measurement.

Keywords: Adenosine; Caffeine; Pain Management; Role.

Publication types

  • Review