I took a fall skiing last week, my skis went in one direction, my knees in the other. The audible pop sounded and felt much like what happens when I break the cartilage in the joint of a chicken. Argh.
Not surprisingly my knee hurts, and ice and ibuprofen are what Patient Spiritual Director calls "ordinary graces" — which I do not disdain.
Sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea is also good therapy, but it turns out that the tea is more than psychologically soothing.
Adding around 100 mg of caffeine (roughly what's in my big mug of tippy Assam tea) to 400 mg of ibuprofen makes it 2 to 3 times more effective in relieving acute pain. In 1904 Charles Scott Sherrington coined nociceptive to distinguish between the psychological response to an unpleasant stimulus (nociception) and the physiological response (pain). Caffeine enhances the antinociceptive activity of NSAIDS like ibuprofen, but I think it also mitigates the psychological response. I wonder what Prof. Sherrington would make of that!
Full disclosure: I fell in the lift line, my skis got entangled when I tried to retrieve the pole that got stuck in the snow. I'd love to say I did this catching an edge on a glorious powder run.
The chemistry heavy version of this post is here for the truly geeky....