Could Coffee Be Causing Your Back Pain?

The morning ritual. Coffee is the way many of us start our day. The smell of it brewing, the sound of the espresso machine at your favorite coffee shop, and the best part… the taste. So rich and flavorful; add a splash of cream (and sugar for some of you), and what could be better?

I’ve always been more of a tea kind of guy, but a good cup of coffee or cappuccino after a nice dinner out is the bee’s knees. There is even evidence to suggest that coffee consumption may prevent or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancers (which are diseases that I think we would all like to avoid).

Unfortunately coffee may have some downsides, though, and one of them could be the cause of your back pain.

The Back Story…

When I was an acupuncture student, I remember one of my favorite teachers saying, “When somebody comes in for back pain, especially Non-Specific Low Back Pain, before you even bother with a big fancy TCM diagnosis, ask them how much coffee they are drinking. If it’s more than 2 cups it might be a contributing factor. If it’s more than 4 cups, it might be the cause.”

This teacher’s word was the gospel to me (he was the Dr. House of diagnosis at my school), and I’ve always heeded his advice. Back pain is the bread and butter of most acupuncturists and it certainly has been mine. After treating hundreds of cases, I’ve noticed the patients that don’t drink coffee (or those who significantly decrease their intake) get better the quickest and face a way lower chance of reoccurrence. I’ve also have had many tell me that after stopping coffee, their back pain disappeared.

So while I was enjoying a cup from my favorite Portland roaster, Stumptown, earlier this week, I got to wondering what is actually the mechanism behind coffee and back pain. Of course I pulled up google and typed in “coffee and back pain.” To my surprise, the only thing with relevance was a blog post from 2007 from a now defunct blog.

The post itself, Coffee Drinkers Beware, didn’t even mention back pain, but the main thread in the comment section included numerous testimonials about people curing their chronic back pain by abstaining from coffee. So I began changing my search and hitting up Google Scholar and Science Daily.

After f-ing around for way too long reading abstracts and journal articles, I only found one little excerpt in the methodology section of a study even acknowledging a relationship between back pain and coffee:

“The patients medical history was examined for exclusion and inclusion criteria, as well as other low back pain risk factors such as cigarette smoking, daily amount of coffee intake and number of pregnancies.”

So while there is a serious lack of research (that I can find), between my anecdotal evidence as a practitioner, the insight of my “bad-ass” teacher, numerous comments from a blog, and this tiny excerpt from a study, I’m still willing to say that the consumption of coffee at least plays a role in back pain.

Okay… But How?

The Wellness Renegade Hypothesis

First, let’s start out with some back pain 101. People with back pain have tight muscles. In treating hundreds of cases, I’ve only seen two without muscle tension and they had severe neurological conditions. So even if you have arthritis, a slipped disc, an injury, sciatica, whatever the diagnosis, I’m willing to bet it all that you also have tight muscles and possibly spasms.

This is something, astonishingly, that is often overlooked in treatment. Despite the diagnosis, when these muscles are effectively loosened most back pain is resolved or greatly reduced. When the muscles tighten back up, the pain returns.

Possible Cortisol/Sympathetic Dominance Factors?

Coffee, Caffeine as a stimulant, and Cortisol are the main components of my theory. Cortisol is often called “stress hormone” or “fight or flight hormone.” Muscle tensing is one of the main physical symptoms of cortisol. Stimulants like caffeine shift the body into sympathetic dominance (fight or flight) and have been shown to increase cortisol.

Also, even moderate amounts of coffee can contribute to sleeplessness and insomnia – which can further elevate cortisol levels.

So what about tea? Despite the caffeine, tea has been shown to lower cortisol levels.

Does this seem like a stretch to you? I’m open to other theories. Some of the comments from the above mentioned blog suggest the dehydration from caffeine may be the culprit. But, current research shows that it would involve consuming large amounts to have any diuretic effect at all.

If You Have Back Pain, Try Taking a Break From Coffee.

Ever try to quit caffeine? It’s a rough process. But, if you suffer from back pain it might be worth the effort. I suggest a combination of switching to tea and then tapering off over time. The tea may help balance out your cortisol levels which could be the big problem anyway. At the worst, and your back pain isn’t resolved, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to conquer that addiction.

Have you noticed a correlation between your coffee drinking and back pain? Got a better theory on the connection? Please leave your comments below so we can get to the bottom of this!

(Also, for you google geniuses or research librarians, if you can find some better research, please drop us some links.)

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75 Responses to “Could Coffee Be Causing Your Back Pain?”

  1. Mike says:


    Interesting theory. Just curious if the pain could also be renal in nature? I understand that it would take large quantities to have a diuretic effect, but aside from that I wonder if large amounts of coffee could be stressing the kidneys? I wonder if there is a correlation to the ratio of coffee to water intake that may have a contributing effect.

    Just a thought.


    • Doug says:

      Interesting thought Mike, I’ll see if I can find anything about that.

    • Rob says:


      I thought the same.. I’m a 42 yr. old male that’s been heavily drinking coffee since age 16 or so! I love it! I’ve also had chronic back issues, tight muscles & frequent muscular spasms throughout my body, but mostly in the back. About 3 years ago, I made a conscious decision to try & get off caffeine.. Over the next 2 years I went 50/50 & eventually 95/5, as I still occassionaly will have some caf, as it now has a positieve “pick me up” effect, whereas before I was pretty much immune :).. It’s been well over a year now & what it did was lower my anxiety! Great impact as I’m now a little less “anxious” in my demeanor…., but… I still am sucking down at least 6 cups a day of this awesome decaf (air roasted, organic, non acidic) & I still haven’t extreme back muscle issues / chronic pain… I’ve been out surfing the web for further guidance, as I’ve seen many a chiropractors, accupunctures, MDs, DOs, etc.. over the years.. I’ve even spent thousands on 5 different mattresses in the last several years, to no avail, my low back pain is still there!..I’m here to say that starting today, I’m going to stand strong & start a personal experiment! NO Coffee (say for the next 2 weeks), a lot more water intake and see where this leads me… This has got to be the answer?! I also think my kidneys are on overload?. Thanks for listening, as I’ll LYK the outcome.. Gonna be tough! Especially over the Holidays!

  2. Amy says:

    NOOOO! I love coffee!

    This is very interesting! I definitely echo your theory on tight muscles- once my personal training clients have worked with me for a while to ease muscle tension in the back and strengthen the supporting muscle groups, their back pain definitely gets better. I’m going to suggest to them giving up coffee for a couple weeks and see if it helps. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    I agree with your hypothesis on the elevation of cortisol being linked to back pain as well. Cortisol is the get-out-of-here-you’re-not-helping hormone; it’s linked to weight gain, depression, anxiety and chronic stress. Since it is a stress hormone, I can see how it would cause more all-around muscle tension as well.

    Though it’s sad to look at because coffee is a great joy of mine, I can see where you’re coming from.

    One more thing to think about- I definitely see a correlation between alcohol and back pain in my clients. The more a person consumes, the more likely they are to suffer from spasms and tightness. Any wisdom here?

    P.S. I wish they had a Stumptown in LA, too!

  3. Doug says:

    Hey Amy,

    I wouldn’t worry about drinking a little coffee if you’re not having any pain. It’s just something to consider if you do (and especially if nothing else is working to resolve it).

    Alcohol also? I did notice in the literature that cigarette smoking can play a role too.

    Looks like the folks with back pain can’t have any fun ;-)

  4. Armi Legge says:

    I think you always have to remember that caffeine is a drug. As such, there will always be a dose-response relationship to the subject.

    Coffee has many anti-inflammatory properties which would largely help back pain, if it’s caused by an infection, trauma, etc.

    While I don’t disagree with your hypothesis, I think moderate amounts of coffee would be beneficial, as long as the subject didn’t consume more than about 2 cups a day.

    You also have to look at what kind of coffee the were drinking. Some brands have tons of mycotoxins which would definitely cause body aches/sickness.

    Interesting post.


    Coffee & inflammation…

    • Doug says:

      I agree that a couple cups of coffe a day is probably not a big deal (and preferably high quality).

      And while it is good to know that coffee has anti-inflammatory properties, there are a ton of different things that are far more potent for inflammation than coffee.

      And more importantly I feel like we’ve gotten a little obsessed with the notion that inflammation is the be-all-end-all of pain.

      Most people I treat that have pain (like 95% of them) have no outward symptoms of inflammation – they tight f-ing muscles. Do they have low level inflammation? I have no idea.

      If all or most pain was inflammation, I would think we would have a better handle on managing it. We have all kinds of pharma anti-inflammatories and tons of supplements and herbs that have been proven to strongly reduce inflammation. They all seem to help to varying degrees, but rarely will they be a cure (and often the pain comes back once they are removed).

      Thanks Armi!

      BTW awesome interview last week!

  5. Sarah O says:

    Wow, that’s interesting that tea actually lowers cortisol levels. I wasn’t aware of that, just assumed the caffeine would raise the levels as coffee does. Very good reason to stick with tea at least in the afternoon.

    Last year I managed to quit drinking coffee (mostly) for an entire year after a lifetime of drinking it. And the truth is I felt much better and I think I looked better too. Unfortunately the habit has crept back, but I’ve got it much more under control (no more espresso afternoons!). I don’t suffer from back pain, and I do love my morning cup of organic medium roast, so I guess I’m sticking with it for now. Moderation in all things is my motto!

    Thanks for the thought-provoking info!

    • Doug says:

      Hey Sara,

      Yeah pretty cool about the tea huh? I just learned that a couple weeks ago.

      I think you make a good point about stopping coffee. While coffee does have some beneficial properties (and it tastes awesome), most that quit or significantly reduce their intake almost always say they feel a ton better (besides the intial withdrawal).

      Yeah, I wouldn’t stress out about that morning cup!

  6. I used to drink a lot of coffee during my early semesters of studies, and it didn’t do me good. I’ve switched to tea since then. But I still like an occasional cup of coffee, especially after lunch. Maybe it’s the same as with other things like wine that have certain health benefits when consumed in moderation, but are toxic when you have too much of it.

  7. I would attribute it to more like a mild dehydrating effect in part to imbalancing your electrolytes. I think coffee is pretty tough on your magnesium levels?? And if you are like me as I type and read, I am sitting–drinking my coffee…sitting is my achilles heal for my back and piriformis issues! Double bad.

    • Doug says:

      Ahhh.. Magnesium levels – I didn’t know that. I think that could be a big part of it. Thanks Mason.

      BTW I’m drinking some right now also ;-)

      • Cherry says:

        I am suffering at the min with bad aching bk. went to docks and they did internal! Cos I suffer my very lower back. And very low tummy. But mostly my back. Anyway they sending me for a pelvic scan on Tuesday!! But maybe it is the coffee. I do drink prod 7 cups a day! And no water or juice!! Not good

  8. Maria says:

    WOW – I’m glad I found this site! My back started hurting all of a sudden. I didn’t pull any muscles, and I’ve never had any back pain. The only difference in my life lately is that I have been drinking tons of coffee! And I’ve been so busy that my water intake has been much less.

    I am going to get off coffee and drink lots of water – hopefully that’s all it takes to make this pain go away.

    I felt much better before I got started with the coffee. I started with a cup in the morning, and now I crave it way too often.

    I’m going to just do without, can’t seem to stick to a little cup. Thanks for all this info! :)

    • Doug says:

      Hi Maria,

      Be sure to let us know how it goes.

      • Pat says:

        Yes, I truly believe coffee is the culprit of my many, many years of back pain. I quit coffee for nearly a year and the pain was finally gone. I have been back to drinking coffee for a month and a half and the pain has gradually returned and is getting worse. I am DONE with coffee..
        Let the bean buyer beware!!!

  9. Peter says:

    On several occasions I’ve found that drinking too much black coffee or alcohol caused my back pain. I did some google and someone said that coffee reduces calcium absorption which causes back pain, and taking calcium supplement would help – is this possible?

    • Doug says:

      If blocked calcium absorption is the only problem, in theory that would be possible. However, I’m a bit skepitical of calcium supplements. I don’t think they work all that well. The best way to improve calcium levels and absorption is with Vitamin D (ideally from sun exposure), nutritious foods and bone broths, and even magnesium supplements.

  10. henrik rudolph says:

    Hi doug. Too much cofee,red wine,sweets,lack of
    exercise, and lack of sunlight together with stress create the pain Ihave got in my back. The reason might be an unbalanced short too much acid in my body.

    • Doug says:

      Hi Henrik, any and all of those could be contributing to your back pain. The good news is you know what things you can work on to get better. Good luck!

  11. MIKE PURCELL says:

    …just came across your site and I noticed you are in Portland, Oregon, me too! I will think about this no coffee approach idea, ughh not easy. I have had some back problems for a while now and Tea has been a nice replacement for coffee on occasion. Great web site.

  12. darlene says:

    Hi Doug,

    I have suffered nighttime back-pain for 4 years, changed my diet to anti-inflammatory which included no caffeine, i drank about 3 cups a day because I slept poorly. After 6 weeks i was pain free could lay down for 8 hours, where before I had pain after 5 -6 hours in bed. then I went off the diet, love sugar , drank coffee, 3 weeks of this the pain returned. I am convinced this is caused by weak adrenals that are affected by the cortisol affect of coffee and improper nutrition that weakens the ligaments that support the back. I have returned to the diet for only 3 days and the pain is subsiding. Thanks for you info, Darlene

    • Doug says:

      That’s really interesting. Glad to hear the pain is subsiding quickly this time – I guess coffee and inflammatory foods are off the table for a while.

  13. Rick Bindra says:

    I am suffering from terrible back pain and the sides of my waist feel like a pulp or watery kind of feeling or not feeling normal on both sides of my trunks. I am drinking two cups of decafe coffee and yesterday I had a large cup of starbucks regular coffee and night was unbearable with pain and lack of sleep. And today I thought let me search on google if there is any connection with back pain and coffee. I am glad that I read few comments which are going to help me to stay away from coffee and see what happens next.

    • Doug says:

      Hi Rick,

      See if skipping the coffee helps some. I have a feeling from your description of the pain that you should look into adrenal fatigue also.

      If you are in severe pain, be sure to get it checked out. It could even be a kidney stone or infection.

      If it’s more chronic, you might seek out an acupuncturist or chiropractor.

      Keep us posted.

    • Beth Kitty says:

      Although there are many benefits to drinking regular coffee, some people have a sensitivity to it like myself. I though since I only drank one cup in the morning it wouldn’t effect me at night. Well, once I switched to decaf, I felt so much better with regard to my lower back. I sleep much better, therefore, getting the healing sleep I need. I found this out by accident because I have ulcers on my esophagus and can’t have caffeine. Boy, am I so glad I found out.

  14. M says:

    Yes! I occasionally have excruciating lower back pain. It feels like trapped gas, but antacid did nothing but upset my stomach. I began keeping a log of what I do/consume on the days pain strikes. Three or more cups of caffeine seem to be the common denominator. Ironically, many of the pain killers I use contain caffeine too. What’s a girl to do? I will take a break from the coffee. Thanks for the insight.

  15. Denise says:

    I’ve had upper back pain for years and have been told its just from wear and tear. Often doing exercise such as yoga aggravates the problem and I end up with pain up the back of my neck, tight muscles in my shoulders, sore eyes and a headache. I’ve vomited from the pain its been so bad a few times. Acupuncture and massage really help but recently I’ve noticed that as interim measure a cup or two of coffee significantly improves things so I can get by until I can make it to the acupuncturist for a longer term solution.

    I love my one or two cups of coffee each day and I don’t usually drink more than that as I know it’ll affect my sleep but now I’ve another reason to drink it, it works better for me than ibuprofen. My aches and pains disappear within 30 minutes of having a coffee.

  16. Maria says:

    I’m suffering from Several Back Pain from getting up to going to bed I will take this Coffee intake in consideration I will quit Coffee for a year will write back in 6 months to see how it went thanks for the Advise….

  17. Justin says:

    i have found a link between drinking coffee and lower back pain, i suffered from lower back pain for the last 20 years mostly a slipped disc but from time to time again there is a different pain with in my lower back that is just as painful ( keep thinking it’s my kindys )
    but i started realizing that it only happens after i been sitting for long time mostly after i’ve had a couple cups of coffee ( love the coffee) when i get it, it’s quite painful, however this is not the case when i don’t drink coffee. i have found that if i drink a couple glass of water after the coffee that the Pain goes away like it was never there to start with, no pain killers no nothing. as i sit here typing this and drinking coffee my back is starting to hurt. I’m off to drink some water..Bye

  18. Ross says:

    Hi I have never done this before. I used to suffer from back pain. Have spent thousands on massages and stuff like that. Well Gave up coffee and never felt better


  19. Google is a wonderful tool! Got back from a big meal out the other evening and started to feel a twinge in my lower back. Fast forward a couple of hours and after sitting down, standing and straightening my back, almost passed out with the pain.

    I’m a big guy at 6f7″ and overweight and just presumed it was the height and weight catching up with me (I’m 37). However found your article late this evening and it really made me stop in my tracks… I’m a big coffee drinker. Getting through at least 5,6,7 cups of coffee a day.

    Going to cut it completely this coming week and observe the results.
    The irony is i run a blog called

  20. Barry Langdon-Lassagne says:

    I had been suffering from frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) in my left shoulder. In February 2012 I quit my multi-year 2-3 cup morning coffee habit and the pain almost immediately started subsiding. It could be coincidence, since I had been having pain for nearly a year and the normal course of the condition is supposed to subside in the same timeframe.

    Lately I have been having pain in my upper back, a spot that periodically bothers me usually related to stress, but probably not related to the frozen shoulder. Anyway, yesterday I had two cups of coffee for the first time in a while and last night I had the worst upper back pain I’d had in months. I woke up this morning with my back feeling better and wondered, again, whether there was a correlation between coffee intake and back pain. I’ve switched back to tea this morning. We’ll see how it goes.

    I realize that this is all anecdotal evidence, and I don’t know what the mechanism could be, but I think there might be some connection between certain types of back pain and coffee intake

  21. Ines says:

    I have been having lower back pain on and off for two years. I’m a one or two cup a day coffee drinker and have been noticing a pattern between days I drink a lot of coffee and my lower back pain acting up, almost immediately. Coffee gives me a temporary energy boost where I feel great, but my back starts throbbing within an hour or two. I was so happy to read these posts to confirm what i was thinking! I definitely noticed a pattern. I love coffee, so it will be hard to give it up. Do you think decaf would have the same effect?

    • Michael Melville says:

      I spent a couple of holidays enjoying 2 or 3 cups of coffee for breakfast. Physio, no good. `During the second holiday I realized the association between coffee and lower back pain for me. Since then, little coffee means little pain. I drink decaf with no problems at home.

    • Beth Kitty says:

      Hello – Decaf should not hurt your lower back. It’s just the regular coffee that can. Although coffee can be a mood enhancer and make you feel good mentally, it can aggrevate lower back pain. It also strips your body from valuable calcium and other nutrients. Yes I know that it has many benefits, but some people like myself are sensitive to it and it may not be good for some people. I switch to decaf and I couldn’t believe the positive difference I felt the next day. Just drink decaf. You might get a headache the first fews days without it, but I didn’t get the headache, so maybe you won’t either. best to you!

  22. Rachel wallace says:

    I started having back pain almost as soon as I became a daily coffee drinker, sciatica, deep pain and also joint pain, causing many sleep problems. I now truly believe through experience, that the coffee caused most of it, when I stop drinking it, I sleep like a baby with no pain or restless legs, I can sit for a long time without pain. I believe it is caused by a combination of dehydration, which effects every aspect of the body, as we are 70 percent water. Also, kidney function being aggravated. Adrenal fatigue, calcium loss through frequent urination, leading to lower bone density. The leaching of valuable minerals and nutrients from our system and joints etc…. I know without a doubt these are the cause, and I have stopped drinking coffee and caffiene. I am surprised there are not more studies on this!!

  23. T says:

    wow, wow and wow!

    I mostly stopped drinking coffee during my 3 pregnancies and then completely stopped while nursing because it made my babies wake up at night. About 2 months ago, I finished nursing my 3rd child and was thrilled to get back to coffee. I decided that I would drink as much as I wanted because it makes me happy!! ha ha So, this ended up being about 3 cups a day. I have been struggling with lower back pain and stiffness for a few weeks now. It just occurred to me yesterday that I wondered if there was a link to my coffee intake. So, what do you do? Google it! And here you are.

    I can’t live with this back pain, my kids are 5, 3 and 1….. I am a busy stay at home mom!

    I pray this is the easy fix…….there shouldn’t be a problem with drinking decaf right? Doesn’t taste as good but it’s the CAFFEINE not the COFFEE right?

    • Doug says:

      Decaf should be fine. Some roasters are actually doing a pretty good job with it now.

      You might also look into “Bulletproof Upgrade Coffee.” It’s caffeinated, but it’s free of mycotoxins which many claim to be the cause of the negative side effects of coffee.

  24. T says:

    Just started reading some comments and people are saying decaf seems to be fine….so will give it a try!

  25. Laura says:

    I have 2 compressed discs just below the ribs. The pain varies widely, from little/none to throbbing zingers causing nausea and occasionally vomiting from the pain. I had idly wondered in the past if coffee was contributing…we were out of coffee a couple days last week, and I spent 5 hrs over 2 evenings pitching heavy wet bedding out of the barn with no serious effects. Yesterday, casting around a 24 oz travel mug of java, I had bad pain most of the day. The only relief I can get us lying down with a body pillow and ice paks. (I have several of the CryoMax ice paks sold by Walmart and others) I feel like I’ve lost a good portion of the past 28 months since the pain started. So today, I finally Google it, and here I am! For me, I think coffee does exacerbate the pain, thanks for some shred of confirmation that I’m not imagining that! :) Also noticed that arguments seem to make it worse as well. Makes sense, stress=pain.


  26. Nick says:

    Well i’m glad I stumbled accros this!

    I have been experiencing back pain for several months now, mainly in the morning after about 5-6 hours of sleep (its fine in the night).

    I recently had an MRI scan as when it started months back I couldn’t even walk when it was bad. I was told I have a slipped vertibre and could be the cause.

    However I truly do not believe this is the problem and my symptoms are all over my back but today i’ve been wondering if its linked to coffee.

    I thought about it and remember that it very often starts after i’ve been sat at my desk, its 100 times worse after I have had quite a lot of coffee, its also real coffee I always drink, probably 6 cups a day? – and not at weekends or when I was on holiday, it was fine all those times.

    I’m going to give this a try as its highly likely and sounds very promising!

    I will keep you posted! Thanks!

  27. Nelson says:

    I have had upper back pain for some years now and I started to think in my head what did I changed on my diet since then. And was the increasing ammount of coffee I was taking. I thought that coffee is a diuretic and could be drying up all my organs, my skin was very dry and flaking in many places so I thought, my muscle can also be lacking of water too, so they will tense and give me back pain, the disk between the vertebras may also be dehydrated. So I stopped coffe from one day to the other and guess what, the pain almost disappeared and my skin recovered so rapidly. I still have some pain and discomfort but I think now I’ll need the help of a osteopath which helped me in the passed but as I always drink coffee the pain was coming back (tighntess on muscles will displace vertebras). And in general I gain more flexibility, my neck and shoulders feel better too. Hope my experience helps some of you.
    I had a strong big cup of coffee in the morning, a bit in the middle of the morning and an expresso after lunch in a normal day. It was a big headache on first day without coffee. Now I only drink infusions and water. I think when I eat chocolate also has the same effect as coffee like mentioned here.

  28. Ryan says:

    I found this blog post because I am on my third day without caffeine and despite the headaches I have noticed a huge improvement in my mobility and a reduction in back/hip pain. I think it very well could be related to stress hormones.

  29. Lisa says:

    I was diagnosed with adrenal fatique and taken off all caffeine, which has gone well. No back pain, gluten free, dairy free diet. I take multiple supplements and vitamins also. Well, I went to Mexico and had a Coronado and was back hooked on coffee. This was 4 weeks ago. I have been drinking coffee since. Two weeks ago I woke up with “Frankenstein Neck” which has turned into lower back pain like it’s just gone out with sciatic pain down the right leg. Looks like I better go through the withdrawls again and hit the tea bags in the morning with coconut sugar. Bummer

  30. Deepak says:

    Interesting read. There is still not much online about back and side pain caused by Coffee. I used to have 3 cups of coffee per days for a few years. I developed very bad back pain, especially when seated for long hours (in cinema’s) and side pain as well. after trying a few stuff which did not work, I stopped coffee, as suggested by a friend. As soon as I stopped coffee, and drank heaps of water, the pain vanished. Now when I drink coffee, the pain reappears, so I just start drinking water to reduce pain.

  31. Pain Free says:

    my back pain went away now that I stopped drinking coffee. Coffee should be illegal..

  32. Toni MK says:

    I drink usually 1 – 2 cups of brewed or filtered cofee. Since I`ve started to drink espresso coffe in the beggining one and after a month and 3 coffees a day I noticed a untipical lower back pain. A few years ago I ends up with active cycling and bike racing, and my form was much lower. I thought that my lower physical activity could be the problem. But after few weeks of investigating
    I`ve noticed that when don`t drink espresso for three or more days my lower back pain will dissapear. The pain in mu lower back is present only when I drink espresso coffee, even when it is only one a day.

  33. Rob says:

    Great Site! Thanks to all for sharing! After further reading, I’m realizing that I need to make some further dietary changes, over and above the reduction in coffee intake..i.e. chocolate, wine, beer, salsa.. Oh how I love all of these acidic foods/drinks! After a more extreme immediate reduction, I then need to focus on moderation of these vices, and continue to increase the water intake. I’m searching for this balance, especially to get rid of this chronic back pain and muscle twitching / tightness. I”ll report back in a few weeks :)

  34. John says:

    Like many commenters, I drank coffee for years and suffered terrible back problems resulting from tension in the rhomboids and the gluteals. I went to a chiropractor weekly for a long time. I always felt great from the heat and massage treatment while i was there but I could feel the tension resuming in the few minutes it took to walk back home. All of this stopped when I quit coffee. I don’t think it is the caffeine because I can drink tea or chai with no corresponding problem. I avoid all other sources of caffeine except medicinal doses of very dark chocolate. Lately, though, I often crave coffee. If I cave in and have a cup, I seem to develop a stabbing pain in the rhomboids that is almost impossible to ameliorate. Even a percoset doesn’t help. I would love to know the mechanism. Is it the coffee or coincidence? Is there some dastardly other compound in the chemistry of coffee? Why does that muscle or nerve get inflamed? It lasts for 2 -3 days, making it hard to turn my head or get work done. Meanwhile, for those with compression issues in the lower back, I found great relief from the Nubax Trio, which relieved me of a troubled disk problem. By the fourth or fifth day, I forgot all about the lower back issues that plagued me for over 20 years. I was so hesitant to buy the thing expecting it not to work, and I really didn’t want to get involved boxing the thing back up, but I swear it made a new person out of me. In summary, if anyone has a clue as to what mechanism is involved in what feels like nerve inflammation from coffee, please share. Good luck and good health to all of you!

  35. Andrea says:

    This is very interesting and I came across this article when doing a search for this caffeine connection.

    I am a 32 y/o active/healthy female. Last January (2013), I suddenly developed discomfort/aching in the left side of my chest, accompanied with tingling in left arm and fingers. I also had off and on difficulty swallowing, somewhat shortness of breath, and aching in the upper left side of my back. I was concerned it was something with my heart, so I eventually went to the ER when the symptoms did not dissipate after a couple days. There had been no injury either that would have been an obviously explanation. After the ER cleared any possible issues with my heart or lungs, an MRI confirmed cervical radiculopathy. I have a couple discs in my neck that are slightly compressing a nerve. Several of months PT helped, but did not completely solve the issues.

    After these issues seemed to subside, I developed unusual headaches in July 2013 (I very seldom get headaches) that made it feel like there was pressure in my head, almost like swelling, some subtle dizzines, as well as trouble sleeping. It came on so suddenly, I figured there had to be an environmental culprit. I drink a LOT of water every day, so I added more of that. This was during a 10 day heat wave (in the Philly area), so I thought the heat and poor air quality could be the cause, so I avoided exercising outside and stuck to the gym. I tried removing gluten and switched to regular sugar instead of Splenda.

    All these things did not seem to have an affect, so I did what I was dreading and stopped drinking caffeine. After dealing with the withdrawal, the symptoms went away. Since then I have stuck with a cup of decaf in the morning and rarely a cup of tea in the afternoon (since there is so much less caffeine than coffee).

    I have noticed over this time period that my other issues from earlier in the year also have not reappeared. Now, when I have had regular coffee a couple days in a row, I notice the finger tingling and chest/back discomfort.

    When looking back I realize that I had very gradually been increasing my caffeine intake. I used to drink an 8 oz cup of regular in the morning. Then I started bringing my own cup in to work and the travel mug was 12 oz. Then I needed a new mug and increased to 16-20 oz. Then some days would have another small cup in the afternoon. I have been drinking coffee for most of my life and never had any issues, headaches or sleeping trouble with it.

    For now, as long as I stick with the decaf or tea, with a treat of regular sparingly, I seem to be OK.

    Sorry for the novel, but thought it was unusual that there were two different sets of symptoms tied to caffeine.

    Hope this helps others!

  36. Suzanne says:

    I was told about caffeine possibly being a contributor to my back pain through a chiropractor. I have other spinal issues, but let’s stay on track here.

    It has now been two weeks without my one-two cups of coffee. I’ve been drinking it for about 4 years. I also do not have anymore muscle tightening and spasms in my back. They would get so bad I’d want to cry at times.

    In my case, I was very sensitive to the coffee I was ingesting. Quitting coffee was and is for my benefit.

  37. BeccaNava says:

    Ive never drank coffee I have static nerve prob and on meds for that I started taking a diet pill over the counter and it gives me so much energy but I started getting pain so bad in my back I can’t even walk I have to go to dr today don’t know if it’s my kidneys or the caffeine in the diet pills ?

  38. Illiah says:

    Im glad i found this. I don’t really drink coffe but I’m cleaning around the house and needed a pick me up. So i decide to have a cup. About 30 minutes later i get the bad back pain and im a little freaked. So i seach and find this yay me.

  39. Ted Pugh says:

    You are so right. Just discovered the connection myself after convincing myself that high dose vitamin D provided a cure. I drink strong tea, normally; but when I am working I take to strong coffee beans and the percolator.

    I’ve had chronic back pain for about a year. Was it my chair? Did I need a new mattress?

    As it became worse I eventually consulted my GP. No idea. Hospital scans — nothing. I was sure I would get a psychiatric referral next.

    I work at home, writing. I rarely see daylight. Vitamin D I thought — and it seemed to provide a cure. Then the pain returned. Up the D dose. Better but not as effective as before.

    Yesterday no pain. I put it down to the Ds. Drank tea from morning to evening — and then percolated some medium strength coffees beans. I like it really strong.

    Immediate back pain, as soon as I finished drinking the first mug. Can’t think of that happening before. It just, normally, creeps up.

    Had to be the coffee I thought. Made myself sick and drank a couple of glasses of water. Better; but still not good.

    Can I confirm the problem is coffee? Found your Blog on Google. Made a strong pot of tea. (I like that strong as well). One mug later: much better. Half way through my second mug — and the pain is gone.

    Thank you so very, very much.

    You are an absolute star!

  40. Verato says:

    Years of on-and-off with coffee have left brought a simple conclusion: if I go off caffeine my neck pain goes away.

  41. T Charee says:

    I have been suffering from lower back pain for 14 years. I had my first muscle spasm episode when I was 16… And guess what? I worked at a coffee shop…Couple years went by and I found my self working for a different coffee shop and noticed my muscle spasms increased…. yada, yada. After years being plagued with lower back pain with no DR. diagnosis and a strong addiction to caffeine, I decided to see an acupuncturist. And what did you know? She tied my coffee consumption to my back pain. At first I thought she was nuts, but after further research and self experiments with coffee, I found she was right! There should be more articles on this subject!

  42. Neil says:

    I’m a moderate coffee drinker, say 2 to 3 mugs a day. About 5 years ago I had an intestinal infection of Blastocyctis Hominus, Dientamoeba Fragilis and Giardia. The Giardia was a killer and I decided to try a protocol from Australia to wipe them all out. One of these 4 medications (furazolidone) had a NO CAFFEINE requirement. After 5 days on these meds my chronic back pain of 8 years was GONE. A week or so after quitting the meds and going back on my normal diet my back pain returned. I googled the meds I was on to see if one of them had anti inflammatory properties…NOTHING. Then got thinking maybe I had a bacterial overgrowth that was causing the inflammation via my immune system (think Spondylosis)and the antibiotics had lowered or killed off this offending bacteria. I tried a low starch diet recommended for A.S. but it made no difference. I was confused…. it should have helped. Six months ago my stomach problems flared up and in an attempt to heal I did a cleanse which included, among other measures, no coffee. Day 6 around noon it suddenly occurred to me that I had no back or hip pain. It was the coffee… no question about it. I have a few theories regarding the mechanism that I won’t get into here (it’s dinner time) but if you have chronic low back or hip pain try quitting coffee. Best wishes!

  43. Catherine says:

    Hi All, I was struck down with severe back pain several years ago and after a few days not being able to move hardly I remembered a preacher say how he had stopped drinking coffee as something in it was attacking his spine. I realised I had been drinking more than usual so immediately stopped. With in a few more days all the pain had gone . It’s not the caffeine as I drank decaf most of the time. Something else causes the pain. Just recently I’ve been hit with severe pain in my neck making it impossible to turn my head. Again I looked back and realised my coffee intake was up again so today I’ve stopped in the hope this pain goes quickly. I’ll let you know the results shortly.

  44. Catherine says:

    4 days later, no coffee, no pain :-)

  45. Nathan says:

    I drank coffee for years. I gave it up cold turkey in July of 2012. I didn’t have any major pain issues–just gave it up because I was exhausted and way too dependent on it. Fast forward to November, 2013. I spent a day volunteering at my son’s school and was exhausted lol (I don’t know know teachers do it). So…I decided to start drinking coffee again. Shortly after, I decided to do a very intense workout program (Insanity) and thought I tweaked my back doing one of the moves. My lower back was in such pain, I could not do anything. I saw the chiropractor several times, which seemed to help but did not take away the pain. Unrelated to this, I decided to give up coffee again because my addiction started getting stronger again. My back pain completely disappeared within a few days. Also, I had hemorrhoids that also went away. Fast forward to a few days ago (January 2015)..Forgetting I had injured my back a year ago, I started to drink coffee again because Starbucks came out with this new Flat White drink and I wanted to try it. I drank coffee for 3 days in a row and started to feel tension in my lower back. I immediately stopped drinking it again. They say, with any food allergy, if you remove from your diet for a period of time, then reintroduce, if your body has an issue with it, you’ll know it. Coffee (or caffeine) does not agree with me. I’m bummed but it’s definitely not worth drinking it.

  46. Mikael says:

    I used to be a caffeine addict, but always had problems with my lower back and in the last year also knee pain. When I quit, the pain was gone in a few weeks. I have been trying to drink green tea instead, but the lower back pain comes back. I am happier and more energetic with caffeine so it’s a hard decision to give it up once again.

  47. charlie says:

    I stopped drinking coffee a month ago. My chronic nightly unexplainable back pain went away almost immediately. I want to say after one day of not drinking coffee the pain disappeared. I couldn’t believe it…after trying for about 10 years to get rid of my pain was the cure right under my nose the entire time? Well it appears so. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. It’s been a month of zero pain, sleeping all night without back pain (I would toss and turn all night long and wake up with major pain) I’m in my 40s, very fit and active. The pain disappeared literally overnight. I hope it stays that way.

    • charlie says:

      Btw…I started drinking coffee later in life, in my 30s. I drank only 1 large cup of coffee per day, always in the morning. It’s just crazy if it was coffee the entire time causing the lower back pain at night for like 10 years. I stumbled into the caffeine=back pain thing. I must be extremely sensitive to caffeine…My wife drinks tons of coffee and rarely has pain of any kind. I never connected the dots until I started looking into a possible correlation after a few days of not drinking coffee and not having pain. I didn’t intentionally seek to stop drinking coffee. It’s been a month and if I remain pain free I’m never ever going back to it.

  48. Tom says:

    I have had chronic tension headaches, and pain that is is my upper back, and neck. They are just tight all of the time. I tried quitting coffee a couple of times, to see if this is the problem, and I only made it like a week, since the detoxing was horrible, and my neck seemed to tense up even more. I believe that without the caffeine, my muscles became more stressed because of the withdrawal. So i’m going to try it again, and try to make it a few months, to see how I really feel after a longer period of time. I will let you know the results after that amount of time. This site with all the comments is very encouraging btw! Thanks.

  49. Crystal Rhymestones says:

    I went on a coffee binge recently, and started having fire pain in my back between my shoulders. I am hyper sensitive, and have bad reactions to many chemical and “organic” things. I remembered having the same pain many years ago accompanied by crushing headaches when I was on another coffee binge ( 4+ cups a day). I stopped the coffee, and the pain is gone.

  50. antariksh says:

    i checked this blog bcz i have been suffering from same problem suddenly since three days. i am a btech student from india. i neva experienced such back pain before.Being in a crisis or i must say m all way down to my engineering end semester exams i felt the urgent need for coffee to solve my misery and keep me alive all night. after consuming a glass of self made coffee (bru) for 5 days i started to experience this pain in my lower back. and thats when today i hit google to find if there s any relation bw the two.
    thanks man.
    i ll take care next time onwards.


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