Cup of coffee reduces RSI arm pain
Of all those people whose work involves hours at a computer, ten percent complain of pain in their neck, shoulders and lower arm. Researchers at the Norwegian National Institute of Occupational Health discovered accidently that you can reduce mouse-arm pain by drinking a cup of coffee before settling down to the computer.
The researchers were curious to know who gets pain in their neck, shoulders and lower arm from ninety minutes of computer work, with intensive mouse use. Did it only happen in people who already had pain in their neck and shoulders? Or were people who were pain-free also susceptible?
The Norwegians tried to answer the question in an experiment in which 22 people with chronic neck and shoulder pain and 26 pain-free subjects had to perform time-pressured work at the computer for and hour and a half. The subjects had to indicate during the computer session on a scale from 0 to 100 how much pain they were experiencing.
Before the subjects started they were allowed to drink a cup of coffee. The researchers did this to prevent the coffee drinkers among the group from having withdrawal symptoms during the experiment. But when the researchers analysed their results they discovered that a) the pain-free subjects also reported pain and b) that the coffee drinkers in the pain and the pain-free group reported having less pain than the non-coffee drinkers.
The Norwegians suspect that the active ingredient in coffee is the stimulant caffeine [structural formula shown here]. Caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptor, in particular the A1 and A2A receptor. Both types of receptor are involved in the sensation of pain.
"In conclusion, subjects who had consumed one cup of coffee before starting a pain provoking office work task exhibited attenuated pain development compared with the subjects who had abstained from coffee intake", the Norwegians write.
"These results might have potentially interesting implications of a pain-modulating effect of caffeine in an everyday setting. However, studies with a double blind placebo controlled randomized design are needed."
BMC Res Notes. 2012 Sep 3;5:480.
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