Fibromyalgia Pain May Respond to Vitamin D
Pain and fatigue are the two biggest complaints I hear from friends who suffer with fibromyalgia. If the findings of a new study are correct, vitamin D may help relieve much of their pain, which could also have a positive impact on fatigue.
Pain is the number one symptom of fibromyalgia, and virtually everyone who has the disease can expect to experience widespread deep, aching, throbbing, dull, gnawing and/or sharp pain. The pain may come and go, move from one area of the body to another, or fluctuate in severity while remaining around all the time.
If you have fibromyalgia as well as low blood levels of vitamin D, then you may want to consider taking vitamin D supplements. That’s because the results of new research indicates that vitamin D may reduce your pain and help you achieve a better quality of life.
An Austrian research team conducted a randomized controlled trial that included 30 women with fibromyalgia who also had vitamin D (calcifediol, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels lower than 32 ng/ml. A healthy level of 25(OH)D is considered to be at least 40 ng/ml or from 50 to 70 ng/ml depending on the expert.
The women were randomly assigned to take either vitamin D (in the form of cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3) or placebo daily for 25 weeks. The goal was to reach calcifediol levels between 32 and 48 ng/ml.
Calcifediol levels were measured at 5 and 13 weeks after the start of the study, and doses of vitamin D were adjusted as necessary. At 25 weeks, supplementation was stopped, but the researchers checked calcifediol levels again 24 weeks later as well.
Here is what they observed.
- Women who had taken vitamin D supplements experienced a significant improvement in physical functioning during the first 25 weeks of the study
- Women in the placebo group had no improvement in physical functioning during the first 25 weeks
- At 24 weeks after treatment was stopped, women in the vitamin D group showed a marked decline in their level of perceived pain
- Women in the treatment group also had significantly better scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire concerning the severity of morning fatigue
The study’s lead investigator, Florian Wepner, MD, of the Department of Orthopaedic Pain Management, Spine Unit, Orthopaedic Hospital in Austria, explained that “vitamin D supplementation may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical treatment” along with other therapies for people with fibromyalgia. He also recommended that doctors monitor the vitamin D levels of patients and take steps to elevate low levels of the nutrient.
Other natural approaches to fibromyalgia
Several other natural ways to manage fibromyalgia pain and associated symptoms have been studied. Some of them include
Natural treatment approaches such as vitamin D generally are safe to use along with conventional medical treatments. However, you should have your vitamin D levels checked (a simple blood test) before starting supplementation.
Once you know your vitamin D blood levels, you and your doctor can determine the best dose for your needs. Your physician may also recommend you get at least 15 to 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight several times a week so your body can produce vitamin D naturally to help fight fibromyalgia pain.
Wepner F et al. Effects of vitamin D on patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Pain 2014; 155(2): 261