Vitamin D for Chronic Pain

Answering your questions

by Karen Lee Richards, ChronicPainConnection Expert

For some time now I've been interested in studies looking at a possible relationship between low levels of Vitamin D and chronic pain.  Admittedly, some of my interest has been spurred by my own chronic pain condition.  Since I am extremely sensitive to heat, I get very little sun.  As a result, I've always suspected that I am low in vitamin D.  So I wasn't surprised to find that a number of clinical researchers have found that vitamin D may play a role in various chronic pain conditions.  Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about vitamin D and chronic pain. 

What kinds of chronic pain can be related to insufficient Vitamin D?  

Following is a summary of some of the research done relating to vitamin D and different types of chronic pain: 

Musculoskeletal Pain – The largest group of studies seemed to look at vitamin D's relationship to chronic musculoskeletal pain.  Dr. Stewart Leavitt did a comprehensive review of 22 clinical investigations of vitamin D in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.  The studies were conducted in a variety of countries and included approximately 3, 670 adult patients from diverse age groups and ethnic backgrounds.  In the 22 studies, on average approximately 70% of patients with pain were found to be deficient in vitamin D.    

Neuropathy – In a study of 51 patients with type 2 diabetes who had painful diabetic neuropathy, three months of supplementation with 2000 IU/day of vitamin D resulted in a nearly 50% decrease in pain. 

Inflammation – Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation decreases pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines, suggesting that vitamin D may help to improve some painful chronic inflammatory autoimmune conditions like inflammatory bowel disease that are influenced by excessive cytokine activity. 

Migraine Disease – Case reports have shown that two months of supplementation with vitamin D combined with calcium reduced both the frequency and intensity of migraines in post- and pre-menopausal women.  Migraine specialist Dr. John Claude Krusz says he tests the vitamin D levels of all of his patients because he and many of his colleagues have begun to see low vitamin D levels in people with headaches and Migraines. 

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