Did you ever take those Flintstone Vitamins as a child? Moms would say, "Remember to take your vitamins or else you could get sick." Preventing illness is not the only reason to take vitamins. Preventing pain could be another important reason to take vitamins too. The importance of vitamins was discovered long ago when diseases like scurvy, beriberi and rickets were common because of the widespread vitamin deficiencies of the time. Now that our foods are fortified and our food sources more varied, we see less overt cases of vitamin deficiencies. But do not throw away those vitamin pills yet; they are still worth the expense. Not only do vitamins help to strengthen the immune system against attacks, vitamins may also be a critical means of preventing chronic pain.
Not much is said about preventing chronic pain. Once that horse has left the barn, the focus is on finding a solution not remembering to close the barn door. Our society focuses a lot of attention on preventing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Why not pain? Judging by the research, vitamins might be a good place to start a campaign for pain prevention.
Vitamin C has been extensively studied as a way to prevent complex regional pain syndrome. Any orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine doctor or family practitioner who sees people with foot, ankle or wrist problems might want to consider advising those patients to take more Vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin has been shown to prevent CRPS following wrist and foot/ankle surgery. One case report describes a child that had symptoms of CRPS following an injury. Those symptoms resolved after the child's severe Vitamin C deficiency was treated. Vitamin C is not necessarily associated directly with CRPS. However, when all of this evidence is taken into account, a little extra Vitamin C could be protective, not curative or magical, just a little added insurance.
Another Vitamin worth considering in a pain prevention plan is Vitamin B (actually a complex of B Vitamins). These vitamins are critical for nerve health. High doses have been used to treat diabetic neuropathy and peripheral neuropathy with some success. Nerve function seems to improve and the vitamin is well tolerated. What if someone who is a risk of developing nerve pain prophylactically starts taking Vitamin B complex? Would people with diabetes delay the onset of neuropathy? Would someone with an amputation be less likely to develop a phantom pain? These questions could be worth answering if this society is really going to tackle chronic pain.
Lately, much attention has been focused on Vitamin D. The newest recommendations about Vitamin D daily allowance have been debated. The association between Vitamin D and chronic pain has been discussed. Taking all of this information into account, this Vitamin may be another possible way to prevent chronic pain. Because of this latest information, I have been testing all of my patients who have chronic pain. Amazingly, over 50% of them have Vitamin D deficiency. Although the causal relationship between Vitamin D and pain is unclear, you can be sure that all of my patients are taking more Vitamin D as part of their health treatment plan.