London: Drinking a single cup of coffee at breakfast time could help millions of workers avoid the pain triggered by spending hours at a computer, a new study has claimed.
Scientists found that volunteers who undertook 90-minutes of intensive screen-based work without a break suffered fewer aches and pains in their neck, shoulders, arms and wrists if they downed a coffee before getting to the office.
The findings by a team of Norwegian researchers from the University of Oslo suggest that even small doses of caffeine can have a powerful pain-relieving effect.
The stimulant is already added to some pain-killing medicines like aspirin and paracetamol, because it is thought to boost their analgesic qualities.
Coffee has been shown to protect against liver cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and even strokes but there have been few studies exploring its pain-busting properties.
For the study, the researchers recruited 48 full-time office workers who were told they could drink coffee with their breakfast but to limit it to one cup.
The recruits then underwent hour-and-a-half of computer tasks, which involved correcting typographical errors on a document as fast and as accurately as possible, using only the computer mouse.
They were not allowed to pause at any time and were assessed for their levels of pain throughout the experiment.
The results of the study showed that 40 percent of the workers had drunk coffee with their breakfast.
Although both drinkers and non-drinkers experienced pain in their shoulders, neck, arms and wrists during the task, coffee consumers reported much lower levels of discomfort.
“The results revealed a significantly lower increase in pain development for the subjects who had consumed coffee approximately one and a half hours before the task, compared to those who abstained,” the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as saying.
“Several other studies have found attenuated pain during exercise after caffeine administration.
“But we are not aware of any that have examined the effect of coffee on naturally-occurring pain during work of very low-level muscle activity, as during computer work,” they added.
The study has been published in the journal BMC Research Notes.