Is Caffeine Causing Your Chronic Back Pain?
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 caffeine 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?
Could your morning cup of Joe be having unintended consequences? Let’s find out.
You see, caffeine stresses 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 adrenal fatigue symptoms 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 10:30 pm 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 and matcha tea when you are removing stimulants from your diet that are negatively affecting your back health. These beverages are both extremely high in caffeine – nearly as high as coffee.
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
Bulletproof Coffee Shoots You in the Foot
The Truth About Your Morning Coffee Fix
Adrenal Burnout, Dr. L. Wilson MD
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.