Credit: © Nitiphol / Fotolia

Credit: © Nitiphol / Fotolia

Coffee may reduce pain caused by surgery

Coffee may reduce pain caused by surgery, according to the latest research from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Coffee has shown much health benefits lately and is a huge part of the American lifestyle. According to Harvard research, 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day.

The beverage used to be very controversial, as some believed that it caused cancer. In June of last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally cleared it up once and for all that coffee does not cause cancer.

Pain after an operation can become even worse because of lack of sleep. The researchers have found that caffeine may counteract this effect.

Studies have shown that over 80 percent of patients who have surgery experience acute pain after the procedure.

Previous research has shown that lack of sleep before a procedure can make postoperative pain worse.

However, while the relationship between sleep and pain is well known, its underlying mechanisms remain unclear,” explains study co-author Dr. Giancarlo Vanini.

Based on previous studies published by our group and others, we predicted that a brief sleep disturbance prior to surgery would worsen postoperative pain,” Vanini says. “But, we wanted to examine if there were any treatments or interventions that could aid to minimize the effect of sleep loss by reducing the severity of pain experienced after surgery.”

The researchers decided to investigate if caffeine could help.

Most people would be confused by the idea of using caffeine while we insist on the dangers of not getting enough sleep,” Vanini says.

Caffeine in coffee and other beverages blocks the actions of adenosine in the brain. Adenosine is an endogenous sleep inducer. That’s why we feel more awake after drinking coffee.

Insufficient sleep enhances pain perception, so we reasoned that caffeine might also be useful for reversing the increase in pain caused by sleep loss.”

He adds, “We liked the potential of this intervention because it is simple and virtually everyone is familiar with caffeine.”

The researchers reported the following results:

Caffeine blocked the increase in surgical pain caused by previous sleep loss,” Vanini says. “Surprisingly, the data showed that this is not due to caffeine’s analgesic properties.

Furthermore, it looks like caffeine was effective only in those rats that underwent sleep deprivation before surgery. We think that caffeine might prevent the increase in pain sensitivity by blocking part of the neurochemical changes induced by sleep deprivation in specific brain areas that control sleep and wakefulness, and project to pain-related sites.”

The study showing that coffee may reduce pain caused by surgery was published in the journal Sleep.

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1. “To Reduce Postoperative Pain, Consider Sleep — and Caffeine.” University of Michigan, University of Michigan, 11 Aug. 2017.
2. “Preemptive Caffeine Administration Blocks the Increase in Postoperative Pain Caused by Previous Sleep Loss in the Rat: A Potential Role for Preoptic Adenosine A 2A Receptors in Sleep–Pain Interactions.” Sleep, Oxford University Press, 3 Aug. 2017.

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