Can Vitamin D supplementation help patients manage chronic pain?
During this winter of almost non-stop rain and grey skies I have been wondering how many of us are deficient in Vitamin D? Although we get some from dietary sources, we get the most from the action of sunlight on the skin which of course is virtually non-existent for us during these winter months.
Several studies have shown that a wide cross section of the population who experience chronic general pain show a Vitamin D deficiency. The puzzle is that many of these people show no evidence of any injury, disease, or problem such as a slipped disc. Also their symptoms can range from:
- Chronic Back Pain
- Nerve Pain or Neuropathy
- Pain described as ‘Bone Pain’
- Musculoskeletal Pain
- ‘Inflammatory’ Pain such as Irritable Bowel Disease and Crohn’s Disease
Lost days due to pain
Today the BBC published a report on its web pages stating that “Almost 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).”
Prof. Steven Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation states: “Sitting is the new smoking……..the more sedentary you are the worse it is for your health.”
Health experts recommend that you should get up from your desk every hour or so and stretch your muscles. Tone has developed a new app ChiroMoves to help remind people to do exactly that. For more information click here:
or visit http://www.chiromoves.com
A study published in The Nursing Times recently has highlighted that Vitamin D supplements can help with Fibromyalgia in women, a syndrome that causes causes widespread muscle pain and tiredness, and is associated with anxiety and depression.
Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are common in patients with this condition.
In the study, 30 Fibromyalgia sufferers who were lacking vitamin D were either given supplements of the vitamin or an inactive placebo.
Boosting vitamin D levels led to dramatic reductions in the treated group’s experience of pain, as measured using a standard scale based on self-reported symptoms.
In another study of 360 patients with back pain, all of them were found to have inadequate levels of vitamin D but after taking vitamin D supplements for 3 months, symptoms were improved in 95% of the patients. All of them with the most severe vitamin D deficiencies experienced back-pain relief.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Inadequate vitamin D intake can result in a softening of bone surfaces, or osteomalacia, that causes pain. The lower back seems to be particularly vulnerable to this effect.
If you suffer from chronic pain why not visit your GP and ask for a blood test to assess your levels of Vitamin D? It is at this time of year that they are likely to be at their lowest due to the lack of sunshine during our winter months.