Is Caffeine Causing Your Chronic Back Pain?

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 122
Chronic back pain triggered by caffeine
Is Your Morning Cup of Joe Having Unintended Consequences?

Back pain affects 9 out of 10 people at some point during their lives.  It is one of the most common reasons for people to miss work or visit the doctor to find relief.

Many cases of chronic back pain can be traced to structural problems with the spine such as scoliosis or, of course, injuries such as car accidents.

However, for many who suffer from chronic back pain, the reasons are less obvious and in some cases, downright baffling.

What if a simple habit like a daily cup or two of coffee or even that afternoon chocolate pick me up is causing your sore lower back?  Is this really possible?


Caffeine stresses out the adrenal glands, round disk shaped organs only a few inches across which sit atop each kidney on the posterior side of the body which is, you guessed it, right in the area of the lower back.

Just a single caffeinated drink stimulates your adrenal glands which translates into the energy boost that is the primary reason folks consume caffeine in the first place.

While this little boost is not a problem for most people on occasion, it can rapidly lead to weakened adrenals over time when this hit of adrenaline is sought day in and day out or even several times a day if that morning cup of coffee is followed by a caffeinated soda or chocolate bar in the afternoon and an espresso after dinner.

What about those 5 hour energy shots at the grocery store?  I call them “chronic back pain in a bottle”.

How Caffeine Weakens the Adrenals and Leads to Chronic Back Pain

Here’s what happens as explained to me by a chiropractor friend.  Stressing out the adrenals all the time with an unchecked caffeine habit weakens not only the adrenal glands but the entire area around them which includes the lower back. Weak adrenals also suck vital nutrients away from the ligaments and tendons as keeping an important organ like the adrenals happy is more important that strong connective tissue.

The body is very good at sending nutrients to the area that needs them most.   Trouble is, the less vital areas that get shortchanged in favor of the adrenals – such as the ligaments and tendons – suffer and over time, the first ligaments to go are typically the ones that support the sacroiliac joint which supports the weight of the entire body.

Where is the sacroiliac joint?   In the low back/pelvic area of course!

Have you ever gone to the chiropractor to get an adjustment for a sore lower back only to find that by the time you got into the car to drive home, your back was out again?

This is what happens with weakened ligaments and tendons – chronic subluxations and folks who practically live at the chiropractor’s office.

Wouldn’t it be smarter to end the caffeine addiction once and for all, give your adrenals some relief, and strengthen those tendons and ligaments so your back doesn’t go out all the time anymore?

How to Determine if Chronic Back Pain is from Adrenal Burnout

If you suspect that adrenal burnout is causing your chronic back pain, here are some simple at home tests to determine if you are on the right track as described by Dr. L. Wilson MD:

  • First, take a fork and run it gently across the inside of your forearm.  Within about 10 seconds, the lines should turn red.  If the lines don’t turn red very readily, this can be a sign of adrenal fatigue. This article contains other little known signs for you to check such as wrinkles on the underside of your fingertips.
  • Another way to test your adrenals is to lay down on the floor for a few minutes and then get up very quickly. Does your blood pressure drop and do you feel lightheaded like you might even pass out?   This is another sign that your adrenals are struggling.
  • The final test is to take a flashlight and look in the mirror.  Shine the flashlight into one eye and notice if the pupil very quickly contracts as it should.  If not, adrenal weakness is a likely cause.

Strengthen the Adrenals to Help Resolve Chronic Back Pain

If you discover that you do in fact suffer from weak adrenals, getting off dependence on caffeine is one of the very best ways  to strengthen them and thereby indirectly reduce your chronic back pain.  Three other effective strategies are:

  • Adequate rest – get to bed no later than 10:30 if possible.  If you are a night owl like me, resolve to get to bed by 10:30pm at least  a few nights a week at a minimum.
  • Reduce dependence on grains and sugars in the diet.
  • Increase the amount of salt in the diet – not processed salt, also called sodium, but sea salt which is full of minerals and is very soothing and healing for the adrenals (click here for quality sources).  Ignore the low salt dogma which is dangerous to health and has no effect on hypertension anyway according to recent reports and salt your food to taste.

Getting off or at least reducing caffeine intake is one of the very best things anyone can do for a healthy back and/or to resolve chronic back pain issues

This article shares some of the best coffee substitutes out there. Don’t forget about yerba mate either when you are removing stimulants from your diet that are negatively affecting your back health. This South American herb is extremely high in caffeine!

If you have chronic back pain that is baffling you as well as your doctors or you find yourself living at the chiropractor or acupuncturist’s office, the time may be right to take a look at these two little glands that may need some serious TLC.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

Why You Need to Change WHEN You Drink Coffee

How Bulletproof Coffee Shoots You in the Foot

The Truth About Your Morning Coffee Fix

Your Coffee Fix and Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac? Don’t Drink Coffee!

Adrenal Burnout, Dr. L. Wilson MD

Comments (122)

  • Tomas

    Great post here! Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful for me.

    June 30th, 2016 12:48 am Reply
  • Michele

    Just wanted to say thanks! My back has gone out chronically for 10 years, and a few months back – I noticed that when I drink maté it’s more “on the edge” of going out. So I’ve been researching this – could my chronic injury be related to my caffeine consumption (coffee/chocolate/maté). Couldn’t find anything though. I hadn’t had a coffee/any caffeine in 10 days and this morning I decided to celebrate – with a double espresso – IMAGINE! – my back went out an hour later. I really appreciate the topics you cover here. So, yeah, thank you!

    June 11th, 2016 2:38 pm Reply
  • Felix

    What is your sources ? I don’t coffee or tea or caffeinated drinks and i have back issue… I know many heavy coffee drinker and don’t have any issues… I don’t see a major problem of back pain in Argentina ( heavy mate drinkers).

    April 14th, 2016 7:06 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Not everyone who drinks coffee will get back pain from it .. nor does the article claim this. The source as stated in the article is a chiropractor.

      April 15th, 2016 7:06 am Reply
  • Liz

    I thought my issue was with night shades. Could actually be both, but I’ve noticed on the days I drink very strong black iced tea, I have 0 to minimal pain. Is it caffeine or is it coffee? Time will tell as I experiment with this further.

    January 6th, 2016 4:15 pm Reply
  • Tony Nguyen

    Great article! Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful.

    October 20th, 2015 10:29 am Reply
  • David and Max

    This is quite interesting. As a big coffee drinker I never thought it could be related to back pain. Thanks.

    September 3rd, 2015 9:53 am Reply
  • Angela

    This post was quite enlightening about the link between caffeine and back pain. For those of you that love drinking coffee, it may be wise to switch over to espresso instead. Many people think that espressos have more caffeine in them, but that is not true. It is actually about half the level as regular coffee. Making the switch will allow you to continue with your “coffee habit” without as much risk to back pain.

    August 10th, 2015 1:22 pm Reply
  • MSTinPA

    I have an interesting case related to this. My back has been fine for years even though I am very heavy and had a history of disc issues. I am on day three of zero caffeine and aspartame and I am now experience sciatica down both legs to my calves. Has anyone had a similar experience where caffeine suppressed pain?

    July 23rd, 2015 2:59 pm Reply
  • Gwiz

    Thanks! Had lower back pain after drinking coffee googled the the connection and found your post.

    June 7th, 2015 3:32 pm Reply
  • Lara

    Can you post links to some medical sources that validate this information?

    April 24th, 2015 1:36 pm Reply
  • Jim Sanders

    This is some great information. Too much of anything can cause problems, and caffeine definitely has its side effects if you drink a unusually large amount regularly. If you can determine that that’s your problem, it should be relatively simple to solve it.

    March 17th, 2015 6:47 pm Reply
  • James

    Its a great post .

    February 6th, 2015 1:19 am Reply
  • Michael

    I never thought that coffee could cause such thing. I’ve always liked coffee and have thought it brings lots of health benefits. I guess moderation is still the best when it comes to drinking coffee.

    October 29th, 2014 5:52 am Reply
  • Maureen

    Thank you for this article. I suffer with low back pain, middle back pain and neck pain, due to a slip and fall accident. I purchased two energy shots to help me with energy and my pain levels went from 2 to 3 to 10 and above!! It hit me the second day, that it was the only thing that I did different. I did not take any today, and I am finally starting to get back to normal. I am on a pain patch and take Percocet 3x daily and none of my pain meds worked these last two days. I am better today, but I will never take energy shots again, the caffeine made my pain levels so high that my pain meds didn’t help. I will never do that again! I am glad to know it was the caffeine that caused it!

    September 17th, 2014 7:54 pm Reply
  • Mereia

    I’ve been having chronic lower back pain for almost 10months now. I’ve visited physio, chiropractor, doctor and spent so much money on my back. I do have coffee 4 cups per day.

    August 3rd, 2014 11:10 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Is Caffeine Causing Your Chronic Back Pain? | Chronic Back Pain

  • Vasili Gatsinaris

    Great article! Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful. It should be better to have everything in moderation.

    June 29th, 2014 9:48 pm Reply
  • Carol

    This post has forced me to think again about taking caffeine regularly but I know a lot of people who are taking caffeine regularly but never had a problem with back pain!

    June 6th, 2014 10:16 am Reply
  • Pingback: Weekend Mashup: May 31st | CoreWalking Blog

  • Pingback: Best Diet for Menopause: How Food Can Relieve Your Symptoms | Mojo Menopause | Symptoms, Remedies, and More

  • Katie R.

    I drink coffee almost everyday, I absolutely love the taste. Thankfully I haven’t had any back pain yet but I know I should be cautious about what might happen in the future. I just did the tests above and I passed all of them, for now anyway. It seems everything I love causes trouble down the line.

    May 18th, 2014 6:56 pm Reply
  • Megan

    I agree 100%. This was the cause of my lower left sided back pain for six years! Weak adrenals. It took me 3 years of eating a nutrient dense diet to resolve it. After healing my gut on GAPS and really focusing on eating cholesterol, sat fat (tallow, lard, butter, coconut oil) and unrefined salt, I now happily eat soaked grains and even my morning raw milk latte with absolutely NO back pain. In fact I’m 6 months pregnant and chasing around my three other kids and still NO back pain. I cannot say enough good things about how I feel eating this way, but it did take awhile. I wish everyone understood the foundational role that food plays in our health. It is so empowering! Thanks for spreading the word!

    May 18th, 2014 12:24 am Reply
  • Mitch Schellinger via Facebook


    May 17th, 2014 8:42 am Reply
  • SteveandPaula Runyan via Facebook

    Often, its as simple as stretching the inner thighs, and, releasing the psoas muscle, located inside the front hip bone.

    May 16th, 2014 1:35 pm Reply
  • Genevieve Eskridge via Facebook

    “getting off caffeine is the one very best thing you can do for a healthy back”? where’s the evidence for that? or any of this. Your adrenals would refer pain to your thoracic spine, not you lower back. When anyone proposes one solution to a complex problem please question it. There are a myriad of things that cause back pain; posture, mechanics, trauma, age/sticking facets, disc protrusion, SI joint problems, hip mechanics, leg length discrepancies, hypermobility/hypomobility of the spine and supporting structures. The majority of lower back pain causes are mechanical. If it can not be reproduced/reduced mechanically then you can go look systemically and then there are a ton of things to rule out besides too much caffeine in your diet.

    May 16th, 2014 1:26 pm Reply
    • Kelly

      She didn’t say it’s the ONLY cause of low back pain. I definitely agree that there is a correlation between low back pain and adrenal fatigue. As a nutritionist and the wife if a Chiropractor, we see chronic low back pain frequently coincide with adrenal fatigue. How do we know there is adrenal fatigue? We use functional tests like the ones Sarah mentioned. We also use chapman reflex points and if the patient has recently had a blood test, sodium and potassium levels will reveal adrenal dysfunction. These people respond very well to adrenal glandular supplements. Adrenal fatigue is a real issue for so many people. By taking measures to heal the adrenal glands one can certainly improve his or her quality of life.

      May 18th, 2014 12:02 pm Reply
      • Luis

        I suffered chronic back pain for so many years, ny doctor sent me to physical therapy (it didn’t help)
        One day I noticed I had no pain a all… it happen to be coincidentally with me giving up coffee for a week.
        After that I googleling the relation between caffeine and back pain…thats how I found this article.
        So far it is been a week without pain.

        July 7th, 2014 2:13 am Reply
  • Michelle Karwatt Anstadt via Facebook

    Ok, I have given up a lot, willingly, but I will NOT give up coffee! That’s where I draw the line!

    May 16th, 2014 1:01 pm Reply
  • Dena Carr via Facebook

    Well, I know that coffee is not what causes mine, I don’t drink it and never will, can’t stand the smell of it.

    May 16th, 2014 12:56 pm Reply
  • Sharon Black via Facebook

    Yes, it was the culprit for me, and unfortunately, I love coffee. Coffee and back pain-free over here!

    May 16th, 2014 12:47 pm Reply
  • Larissa Katriina Lee via Facebook

    How about caffeine and breastfeeding? How are they going together? I often winder this. I have two black teas with milk every day while breast feeding and wonder if it affects our Oliver’s sleep…?

    May 16th, 2014 11:58 am Reply
  • CardioGod

    Interesting post! Haven’t even imagined that back pain could be connected with caffeine intake. Will switch to tea. Thank you.

    May 15th, 2014 3:03 am Reply
    • Stephen Blackbourn

      There’s caffeine in tea!

      May 17th, 2014 3:14 pm Reply
    • Kathy

      Some teas have more caffeine than coffee… alot of it depends on hoe strong you take it.
      Try Hot coco… It Has very little caffeine.

      June 8th, 2014 4:40 pm Reply
  • Meg Annan via Facebook

    Anyone have good replacements for morning coffee? I like a hot beverage and I’m not a fan of tea.

    March 8th, 2014 5:48 pm Reply
    • Tina

      You might try Yerba Mate, it’s an herb from S. America that is more earthy than tea.
      I like it… but I like tea, too…

      There are some good herbal tea options out there, too…
      Honeybush is a favorite of mine. It’s a variant of the Rooibos (red tea) plant.

      My other go-to after-dinner favorite is Moroccan mint tea, very soothing.

      May 7th, 2014 7:07 pm Reply
    • Cassandra

      I use Dandelion Coffee, the roasted root that you have to grind. Like

      It makes wonderful coffee with the lovely aroma of coffee. I have made cappuccinos with it to. Don’t try any of the already ground dandelion coffee’s because they do not taste anything like coffee.

      May 20th, 2014 5:31 am Reply
  • Amy Lepage Paul via Facebook

    Nooooooooo! Debbie Lepage – I guess we’d better read this one….

    March 8th, 2014 5:12 pm Reply
  • Shawn Jensen via Facebook

    Leah Jensen Walker

    March 8th, 2014 5:04 pm Reply
  • Glenda Pitcher via Facebook

    My husband drinks about a 3/4 bottle of Mountain Dew a day. Plus he smokes about a pack and a half a day. He is ALWAYS having lower back pain. Plus, part of his issues with his back is, he has a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine. The L4 and L5 nerves are being pinched. But, before they got pinched a couple of years ago, he had back issues. We will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this coming May and ever since I have known him, he drinks pop all day and all night. He is addicted to caffeine so bad. I talked to him actually last week about this and his teeth is breaking. He has three molars that just broke a couple of weeks ago. The dentist said it is your age and to much pop. I hope he will listen to the dentist, because our dental bills will go through the roof.

    March 8th, 2014 2:28 pm Reply
  • Sveta Street via Facebook

    Tom Street

    March 8th, 2014 2:25 pm Reply
  • Heather Jenks via Facebook

    Interesting that someone else commented that after going off caffeine, now when they have it they feel negative affects. This happened to me unintentionally. Caffeine never really had much effect on me most of my life, and I didn’t drink it regularly (what’s the point if it didn’t ‘do anything’ for me? lol) However, for a period of 2 years straight I was caffeine free (except for chocolate, but no beverages) with the pregnancy and nursing of each of my 3 kids (so 6 of the last 8 years). Now the couple times I have tried to drink caffeinated beverages I get lightheaded and feel weak (adrenal fatigue). Not planning on giving up my chocolate anytime soon, but definitely going to have the 6 cups per day of coffee hubby read this!

    March 8th, 2014 2:21 pm Reply
  • Diane O’Neil via Facebook

    I had to quit due to constriction of the blood vessels. I have upper respiratory problems and realized that the caffeine was making my breathing laborious.

    March 8th, 2014 1:44 pm Reply
  • Beth Hamilton Broadhead via Facebook

    Yep, totally worked for me. I quit caffeine in December for a couple reasons, one of which was lower back and hip pain. I couldn’t get comfortable when I tried to sleep. By the end of January, I was sleeping like a rock. The mattress I thought was causing my pain is now the most comfortable bed I’ve ever owned. Best health decision I ever made!

    March 8th, 2014 1:29 pm Reply
  • Deborah Burkholder Gulley via Facebook

    Good article, Nicole Gallagher, thanks for sharing!

    March 8th, 2014 12:53 pm Reply
  • Nicole Gallagher via Facebook

    Deborah Burkholder Gulley
    This is about caffeine but also adrenals and mentions the salt water thing I said. I read it right after I saw your page.

    March 8th, 2014 12:36 pm Reply
  • Mags Mc Carthy via Facebook


    March 8th, 2014 12:03 pm Reply
  • Linda Belanger Kempfert via Facebook

    I’m confused… but because I suffer from lower back pain (after lifting things I should not be lifting), I will be testing this theory.

    March 8th, 2014 11:44 am Reply
  • Ann Sands Stine via Facebook

    I quit caffeine and all stimulants 6 days ago. Definitely suffering from adrenal fatigue! Great article.

    March 8th, 2014 11:25 am Reply
  • Shawn Jensen via Facebook

    Scott Jensen Heather Jenks

    March 8th, 2014 11:24 am Reply
  • Nancy Bechtel via Facebook

    I’m giving this a try. Thanks for posting,

    March 8th, 2014 11:15 am Reply
  • Becky Nicklas via Facebook

    Deb Mayfield?

    March 8th, 2014 11:01 am Reply
  • Lee Ebbs via Facebook


    March 8th, 2014 10:34 am Reply
  • lanae

    If you are having lower back pain there’s a good chance you have something called diastasis recti. It’s a separation in your abdominal muscles. This site shows you how to check if you have one

    March 8th, 2014 10:33 am Reply
  • Deborah Alberta Bramel via Facebook

    Good info. I will try this with my oat straw tea.

    March 8th, 2014 10:30 am Reply
  • Tori Rogers Klein via Facebook

    Eric Klein please read this.

    March 8th, 2014 10:22 am Reply
  • Cat Deuel via Facebook

    Cat Deuel read this when you have time..Daniel Deuel you too, in case I don’t!!!

    March 8th, 2014 10:13 am Reply
  • Carrie Stutler Dunham via Facebook

    Some of the best advice I received from my ND was to go off of caffeine! Now when I have it I suffer major adrenal fatigue!

    March 8th, 2014 10:01 am Reply
  • Raechel Nicole via Facebook


    March 8th, 2014 9:55 am Reply
  • Amanda Romeo via Facebook

    Rick Romeo

    March 8th, 2014 9:40 am Reply
  • Stephanie Armstrong via Facebook

    Eric Armstrong

    March 8th, 2014 9:33 am Reply

    managing arthritis with diet and exercise

    October 9th, 2013 8:58 am Reply
  • K

    Wow, yes. I recently went back briefly onto caffeine and felt temporarily great. Then the amped up feeling turned to irritation and stress and wham! Lower back went out the worst it’s been for years. I think my body is trying to tell me something. This time I will listen. I have read somewhere that caffeine causes the muscles involved in fight-or-flight response to tighten (the large muscles like the back, hamstrings etc). See also here: “Caffeine: Cup of Pain, Liquid Stress”

    August 23rd, 2013 2:30 am Reply
  • Ana

    I drink black decaf coffee hot in the morning with a breakfast, and with Ice black no sugar about 11 am and the rest of the day and lately I have been having terrible back pain, I am worried the decaf is doing this for me, because this back pain is new, so do you think I should stop drinking decaf, I felt to the three test and I am very worries.

    July 28th, 2013 7:32 pm Reply
  • Kiyoko Mori

    Funny this actually.. I’ve actually found drinking a cup of coffee to be a useful way to RELIEVE several chronic pain issues I have. It works for Migraines, fibromyalgia and especially relevant to this article.. I have a slipped disk in my lower back that sometimes puts pressure on a nerve and causes me severe pain in my legs. A cup of coffee funny enough will usually cut the pain in half with no help from any other pain killer source.

    I will add however that I rarely if ever drink coffee or even heavy caffeine outside of this. The most caffeinated beverage I drink otherwise is the odd glass of iced tea. Was something a friend recommended who is a holistic nut and at least on this, she was bang on.

    May 19th, 2013 3:58 pm Reply
    • Pam

      Me too! No coffee everyday = headache, low back/hip pain, muscle cramps, crankiness, and heart palpitations. Coffee everyday = none of the above. Yes, coffee decreases my palpitations. My electrophysiology doc theorizes that the caffeine probably increases my heart rate just enough to prevent sinus bradycardia. 95% of my problematic arrythimic epidodes happen when my heart rate is too slow (at rest or when sleeping). When I am active (either daily routine or exercising), I have very few to no arrythmias. I can’t be continually active or go without sleep 24/7/365. So I have “prescribed” daily doses of caffeine (150-300mg/day) and an antiarrythmic med (to cover that 5%) have fixed me right up. Thankfully, I have a healthy heart and normal lipid panel, despite being a bit overweight and a not-so-perfect diet.. Yes, I can drink a cup of coffee at bedtime and sleep without difficulty. Crazy but true. Just shows how different our bodies are!!

      June 4th, 2014 6:59 am Reply
  • Denny

    What of the Bullet Proof coffee, from the Bullet Proof He is a paleo proponent and recommends his toxin-free coffee with grass fed butter and MTC oil as part of intermittent fasting or for the occasional drink.
    He is very science based in his approach and this really make me wonder??

    April 24th, 2013 8:59 pm Reply
  • John

    I should also add that redbush tea is a really good hot drink alternative to tea and coffee. I love it with about 5ml of honey. It has no caffeine and it doesn’t irritate the bladder when you get a UTI.

    April 18th, 2013 12:53 pm Reply
  • John

    Thanks for the post.

    Withdrawal definitely causes me at least five days of lower back and stomach pain as well as dull headaches. Not sure about back pain while consuming caffeine but now I am off it I will keep it under observation.

    Best tip I can give is to taper off caffeine by reducing coffee/tea/chocolate intake over at least seven days. No need to feel ill by stopping all of a sudden.

    April 18th, 2013 12:48 pm Reply
  • Barbara

    I have a lot of back pain and I still have white lines from doing that fork test.

    I’m detoxing off caffeine now and it is brutal.

    February 25th, 2013 2:28 pm Reply
  • Chris

    Reads the word Chiropractor, stops reading…
    QuuacccckkkkQuack quack Quackkkkk!

    November 21st, 2012 6:08 pm Reply
    • Tansy

      You are so very uneducated in the field of Chiropractic. Sad for you.

      February 6th, 2013 10:55 pm Reply
    • Karen

      Why Chris? Please educate us.

      March 8th, 2014 12:26 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Sarno, Back Pain and Coffee? | Critical MAS

  • Dale

    I have a slight scoliosis & pain in my lower right back. I drink a lot of coffee & failed all three of the adrenal tests above. Could the coffee aggravate my pain? I mean I’ve always had the scoliosis, could it be the coffee instead ?

    October 29th, 2012 12:04 am Reply
  • Brian

    I have broken my caffeine addiction several times in the past but I’ve always come back. I don’t remember having back pain in the past, but I’m in the middle of a detox right now – haven’t had any caffeine for 3 full days – and my back is hurting so bad I can hardly function, and I couldn’t sleep last night I was in so much pain. This article has given me the information I need to at least understand what’s happening with my body, but it still hurts like hell and I’m extremely cranky. I know that once I break this addiction, I will feel better and have more energy, so I’m looking forward to that, and I won’t be a SLAVE to caffeine anymore. Now if I can only make it stick this time!

    July 11th, 2012 8:40 am Reply
  • Cynthia

    Caffeine can cause acne and lower back pain. With yoga that would help to avoid back pain. Instead of jogging or running. Increase salt in your meal and avoid sweets that can increase back pain.

    February 9th, 2012 10:52 pm Reply
  • seo

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and exposure! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve you guys to my personal blogroll.

    January 31st, 2012 1:22 pm Reply
  • Jose

    Most things, taken in moderation, will not affect you significantly. My great-grandfather smoked cigarettes most his life and lived over 100. I don’t think he was the over-the-top type and he managed. (I am not condoning smoking tobacco or really anything) (vaporizers work wonders).

    What I am saying is do the research, (on your own) ask experts you trust, and draw up your own personal plan or conclusion on the matter.

    December 13th, 2011 10:35 am Reply
  • viraaj

    thanks for this article on lower back pain. though i love caffein but i too was suspecting caffein for my naggging back pain.

    October 25th, 2011 7:27 am Reply
  • Scott Reasoner

    Very good article. Not only does my lower back get out of alignment quickly so does my neck. Does that attribute to the weak ligaments and tendons in my neck? What are healthy alternatives to help get you going in the morning? Have you heard of Ribose?

    September 28th, 2011 3:15 pm Reply
  • Joshua Pittman (@ExeterClinic)

    is caffeine causing your back pain?

    September 22nd, 2011 7:40 pm Reply
  • Linda

    Woa! I just did the 3 tests you listed and failed all of them. I only drink a cup of coffee on the weekend, with cream added, but I can stop. I’m not addicted to coffee. I do have a little chocolate occassionally, but not addicted to that anymore. I wonder if I should add sea salt to my glass of water? I’m already doing the other things you suggested, Sarah.

    September 14th, 2011 4:12 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Linda, too many grains and sugars also strains the adrenals as does a stressful lifestyle in general. Even doing everything perfectly food-wise if we have a stress in our life such as an ailing parent or rebellious child, emotional stress drains the adrenals also. Be sure to breathe properly (I have blog on this) and exercise to help relieve any stress buildup. Hope that helps.

      September 14th, 2011 6:01 pm Reply
  • Raquel

    So green tea is alright to drink everyday? What about black tea? I don’t drink coffee at all.

    September 14th, 2011 9:59 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Raquel, I would not recommend drinking green or black tea everyday. Tea is just a lower source of caffeine so it might be helpful to “step down” from a coffee addiction.

      I love black tea but if I drink it everyday, I get low back pain so I only drink occasionally.

      September 14th, 2011 10:35 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    @olivia, try removing hard to digest foods from the diet. Eating a lot of bread, other grain based foods and starches really slows down the digestion. Since digestion uses up the biggest chunk of our energy, if you eat only very easy to digest foods you will free up a lot of energy hopefully getting you off the need for a caffeine boost. Eating a lot of sugar makes folks really tired also after an initial boost. Another idea is to try to switch to green tea which is much lower in caffeine and try to gradually get off the coffee.

    September 14th, 2011 6:50 am Reply
  • Olivia Backstrom via Facebook

    What do you recommend for a pregnant woman with a one year old to look after? I am asking in all seriousness. I know my adrenals are not at their peak. I am having back pain that although pregnancy related, I’m sure it is being exasperated by caffeine consumption. (I drink a very small amount each day- my cup is more than 2/3 whole milk) I find, though, that if I skip my morning coffee I am on the couch the rest of the day unable to function… and that is not possible with a toddler to take care of. So what would you recommend to replace coffee and yet still give me some kind of energy boost?

    September 13th, 2011 10:57 pm Reply
  • Angela Blazek Salinas via Facebook

    I was nearly incapacitated by a herniated lumbar disc. MRI showed a 15 mm protrusion of disc material causing severe sciatic nerve pain. I wondered at how my discs could be so weak and shallow at only age 33! It occurred to me after my MRI that I had really ramped up my coffee intake over the last year, drinking a whole pot a day by myself (half-caff). And since caffeine is a diuretic, I figured I was dehydrating my discs to the point of injury. I quit caffeine and have gotten steadily better over the last 4 months with no surgery! It had been worsening from January to May.

    September 13th, 2011 9:52 pm Reply
  • Lara

    Hi Sarah

    Do you mean that chocalate (even the 100% raw organic chocalate) is bad for your adrenals. Do you not eat any cocoa either?

    Thank you

    September 13th, 2011 8:03 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Lara, I eat chocolate only on occasion. Maybe once or twice a month if that. Yes, the caffeine in chocolate is a problem and I personally would not be eating it frequently even if 100% raw organic chocolate.

      September 13th, 2011 9:36 pm Reply
  • Tony K. Maghsoudi (@napervillerehab)

    Do you drink a lot of coffee?

    September 13th, 2011 4:26 pm Reply
  • Summerset


    I have a really bad caffeine addiction and when I have tried to quit drinking coffee in the past, I suffered from the worst migraine headaches. Worse, now I am on a low-carb diet(and doing very well, down 30lbs in 3 months) and my cups of coffee have been easing my food cravings.
    Is there anything you could recommend to ease the transition from a 5-cup per day coffee habit to none at all?

    September 13th, 2011 4:18 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Have you tried substituting green tea for at least one or two of those cups of coffee? Green tea is much lower in caffeine than coffee – perhaps this might help you “step down” gently from the 5 cup a day habit?

      September 13th, 2011 5:08 pm Reply
    • Lauren

      Cheeseslave has recently kicked coffee and has written about it on her blog. She relied heavily on Julia Ross’s book The Mood Cure for help.

      September 13th, 2011 6:59 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Sally Fallon Morell says that giving up coffee is harder than quitting smoking.

    September 13th, 2011 4:01 pm Reply
  • Angela Oden Burch via Facebook

    I know I should give it up…I just haven’t…yet.

    September 13th, 2011 2:41 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    @Jennifer, I take issue with those articles that say coffee is good for you. How can anything be good for you where you have withdrawal symptoms and possibly migraines when you come off it? Common sense dictates otherwise. I’d be interested to see who funded those suspicious studies. Could it be the coffee industry?

    September 13th, 2011 1:51 pm Reply
  • Barbara Torrey Centofante via Facebook

    DeCaf still has caffeine in it… just reduced amounts.

    September 13th, 2011 12:56 pm Reply
  • Pamela Frank, BSc,ND (@PamelaTorontoND) (@PamelaTorontoND)

    Is Caffeine Causing Your Back Pain? – The Healthy Home Economist

    September 13th, 2011 12:44 pm Reply
  • Andrea Dierna (@FrSeed2Stomach)

    suddenly wondering about my adrenal health thanks to Is Caffeine Causing Your Back Pain? – The Healthy Home Economist

    September 13th, 2011 12:12 pm Reply
  • Kelli Larson via Facebook

    I think I will remain ignorant on this one. I LOVE coffee!!

    September 13th, 2011 11:45 am Reply
  • Amy Love@Real Food Whole Health

    Great post!

    As a nutritional therapist, we do several tests to determine if the adrenals are compromised- one is the postural hypotension (the laying down and getting up quickly with dizziness and drop in BP) and the paradoxical pupillary reflex (light on the pupils test). We also check for inguinal ligament tenderness (as the sacro-iliac joint can be out of whack) and posterior ilium short leg (one leg shorter than another because of this SI issue). We also check a reflex point located near the bellybutton- where tenderness and nodulation indicate adrenal issues. I personally could never hold a chiropractic adjustment when I was in adrenal failure, and it was due to that loosey-goosey pelvis issue (caused by weak adrenals).

    The biggest thing I find in my practice is the relationship of adrenal stress and impaired blood sugar handling- too much sugar and carbs in the diet, but also impaired digestion/detox, stressing the liver so it can’t do it’s job in blood sugar handling AND the adrenals are not getting the nutrients they need (fats due to poor gallbladder function, minerals due to poor HCL status, or impaired fat absorption,etc). Removing the stressors of caffeine and sugars/starchy carbs from the diet does help (a lot), but supporting digestion can also be important….it’s all connected :) Other support can be needed as well- glandulars, support nutrients, etc- a diet change was not enough for me, and I find that more than 3/4 of my clients need some additional support too.

    September 13th, 2011 11:40 am Reply
  • Amber Moon via Facebook

    I was hooked on coffee for years and it really messed up my blood sugar. I went cold turkey and was in pain for like 3 days..all I did was sleep most of the day. But it worked. I went to decaf for a real long time and now I can drink regular on the weekends and I am fine.

    September 13th, 2011 11:37 am Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    This is very interesting. My husband and I generally don’t consume caffeine (chocolate here and there, but no coffee or anything daily), but I suspect he has major adrenal issues. His back is always out, especially lower back, and the chiropractors don’t know why. He’s been seeing chiropractors for years and an accupuncturist/nutritionist for almost two years now, and we’ve seen a lot of progress this year, but still not quite right. We’ve been focusing on rest, FCLO, high quality sea salt, etc. for awhile but it takes time to heal.

    Also, salt is related to blood pressure, in that if you don’t have enough, your blood pressure can be dangerously low. I don’t know that the reverse (too much = high blood pressure) is true at all.

    September 13th, 2011 11:20 am Reply
    • Cassandra

      My understanding was that too much salt causes edema around the heart, which squeezes it and raises blood pressure.

      September 13th, 2011 11:31 am Reply
      • Elizabeth Jaconelli

        Not all salts are the same. Dr. Brownstein says it’s very difficult to heal the adrenals without plenty of unprocessed sea salt.

        September 13th, 2011 1:14 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Sorensen via Facebook

    I don’t drink it for the energy…I drink it with cream in it for the taste. I love it! But I have been drinking it every day for a while now, and I know it is one of my two major vices (sugar/chocolate is the other) that are hard habits to break! I may try giving up caffeine on the weekdays and just enjoying a cup with my breakfast on the weekends. I don’t know if I can give it up completely.

    September 13th, 2011 11:17 am Reply
  • Jennifer Sara Jansky via Facebook

    Wow, an article that says coffee is bad for you. That is amazing. Seems everywhere I look there are articles saying why you should drink it. I have never been a coffee drinker, smells good but taste awful.

    September 13th, 2011 11:13 am Reply
  • Melissa Yorgey Heath via Facebook

    I’d love to quit and see the effect, but the addiction is strong. :)

    September 13th, 2011 11:11 am Reply
  • AnnMarie Michaels via Facebook

    Quitting coffee was the best thing I ever did!

    September 13th, 2011 11:08 am Reply
  • Lee-ann M Harder via Facebook

    I have noticed my dark circles under my eyes minimize when I am not drinking the Joe – I sleep better too. If only I could inhale the fumes and get the same energy I sometimes find in a cup of Joe. :))) I truly love the smell more than the taste……..

    September 13th, 2011 11:07 am Reply
  • HealthyHomeEconomist (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon)

    Is Caffeine Causing Your Back Pain? – The Healthy Home Economist

    September 13th, 2011 10:57 am Reply
  • Karen

    Thanks for a great post. I have been treated for lower back pain for about 4 years with regular chiropractic adjustments. I altered my diet about 1 year ago and my chiropractor started me on adrenal support supplements about 6 months ago. My lower back has been holding its adjustments well for the past 4 months. I didn’t know why until your post today.


    September 13th, 2011 10:44 am Reply
  • Renee N.

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for another wonderful post. I know I have weakened adrenal glands. I did the flashlight test about a year ago and was floored at the inability for my pupils to remain constricted (my husband as well). I also get very lightheaded upon standing or sitting up from a laying position.

    I have been on the fence about quitting caffeine (16 oz. every morning). I saw something about caffeine as a cancer preventive, though I admit I know very little about that claim. Are you familiar with that?


    September 13th, 2011 10:18 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I have seen the info on coffee as a preventative but to me the negatives of drinking coffee far outweigh any purported benefit. If I drank even 1/2 cup of coffee a day, my health would be in serious trouble. Caffeine absolutely KILLS my adrenals and I would have debilitating back pain.

      September 13th, 2011 11:00 am Reply
  • jill

    HI Sarah,
    As a chiropractor I can second that. In my experience, the long term effects of sub clinical adrenal insufficiency can affect all areas of a person’s health. There is a very accurate test for adrenal gland function. It is a saliva test for cortisol, one of the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. Additionally the test shows the cortisol rhythm in a 24 hour period so that one can see if cortisol is too high or too low and at what time of day. It is simple, cheap and most alternative practitioners perform it. Once test results are in, very specific supplements can be recommended for specific times of the day. While I would certainly counsel patients on dietary changes to support the adrenals (sea salt and vitamin C), sometimes supplemental support is needed to facilitate healing. Great post!

    September 13th, 2011 10:18 am Reply
    • Renee N.

      Thank you for sharing this, Jill. =]

      September 13th, 2011 10:19 am Reply
    • Melissa H.

      I agree w/Jill. 24 hour saliva tests are considered the gold standard for really diagnosing adrenal issues because there is a such a cortisol fluctuation in our bodies naturally throughout the day. I agree with dietary and lifestyle changes to assist the body in healing and building back a reserve in the adrenals. There are some people in which this is not enough and supplements are necessary to assist in that healing. I was one of those people and I am very thankful I had them. :)

      September 13th, 2011 11:07 am Reply
    • Cassandra

      I wouldn’t call that cheap. The one I was given to do was $130.

      September 13th, 2011 11:28 am Reply
    • M1ssDiagnosis

      Thank you for sharing about the saliva cortisol test. Most doctors will insist that a blood test or even 24-hour urine collection will suffice. The truth is, I suffered from adrenal dysfunction and low cortisol for YEARS because I didn’t do the proper test. Another thing you can do is to take your body temperatures with a standard “mercury” thermometer for 5 days. Take it 3 hours after you awake, then repeat in 3 hours, and again in 3. Be sure to take them at the same time each day. Average your 3 daily temps and then compare them over 5 days. If the daily average fluctuates more than .2-.3 degrees, you have an adrenal problem. Other things that can cause adrenal dysfunction are undiagnosed (using useless TSH test or “thyroid panel”) or improperly treated (with T4-only synthetic medications like synthroid and levoxyl) thyroid disease, low iron or ferritin levels, and low aldosterone levels. These things should all be tested if you have an adrenal problem.

      September 13th, 2011 11:51 am Reply

Leave a Comment