Researchers are saying that taking supplements of vitamin D can reduce pain and offer a cost-effective compliment to other traditional medical treatments for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Patients with FMS often experience very widespread chronic pain and fatigue and those studied with low levels of vitamin D have found some pain relief in taking the vitamin supplements.
Fibromyalgia sufferers may also experience occasional anxiety or depression, poor concentration, morning stiffness and sleep disorders. All the horrible symptoms of FMS can often reduce a patient’s quality of life. Often the symptoms can lead to a withdrawal from any social life to loss of employment or careers. A patient with FMS will often need ongoing physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and multimodal therapies. Some will also go through temporary drug therapy and take meds such as: pregabaline, amitriptyline, and duloxetine. For those suffering with FMS, there is no cure known.
Study researcher and orthapaedist at Vienna’s Orthopaedic Hospital Speising, Dr. Florian Wepner, said that this study shows that Vitamin D supplements are an economical and safe treatment for FMS sufferers.
“Vitamin D supplementation may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical treatment for people with fibromyalgia.” – Dr. Florian Wepner
Dr. Wepner and other researchers discovered that patients often had low levels of calcifediol. Calcifediol is also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 25-hydroxycholecalciferal, or calcidiol, and is produced in the liver by the enzyme cholecalciferal, or vitamin D3. The vitamin D3 is then converted by the liver to calcitriol which is an active form of vitamin D. Levels of calcifediol in a patient’s blood will offer the best indicator of the current level of vitamin D found in the patient. When the researchers found common low levels of calcifediol in patients with more severe pain and symptoms of fibromyalgia, they began to hypothesize that a vitamin D supplement might be of benefit by reducing the chronic pain that so many experienced.
“Low blood levels of calcifediol are especially common in patients with severe pain and fibromyalgia. But although the role of calcifediol in the perception of chronic pain is a widely discussed subject, we lack clear evidence of the role of vitamin D supplementation in fibromyalgia patients.” – Dr. Florian Wepner
Dr. Wepner then said that the researchers began a quest to determine whether raising the patient’s calcifediol levels would actually alleviate chronic pain and possibly cause an overall improvement in the patient’s condition.
The study was a randomized and controlled trial of 30 women with FMS that had low serum calcifediol levels of below 32ng/ml. The group’s levels were monitored at five weeks, 13 weeks, and 25 weeks into the study, while the FMS group took vitamin D supplements for 20 weeks. The monitoring allowed the researchers to adjust the oral dosage in the group to help maintain levels of calcifediol between 32 and 48ng/ml. The patients would also be monitored for an additional 24 weeks after stopping the supplements.
After 24 weeks of finishing the supplements, patients reported a marked reduction in their chronic pain levels. The patients all showed a significant improvement in chronic pain reduction during the first part of the study when the patients began taking the supplements, while the pain levels in the study’s placebo group remained unchanged.
Overall the group taking the vitamin D supplements scored better on a fibromyalgia impact questionnaire with symptoms like chronic morning fatigue. However, there were not any significant improvements with the group’s anxiety or depression.
Dr. Wepner believes the data they presented looks very promising for vitamin D helping to reduce the chronic pain suffered by patients with more severe cases of fibromyalgia syndrome. Dr. Wepner advises FMS patients to have their calcifediol monitored regularly by their doctors especially in the winter season when the hours of sunshine are reduced.
By Brent Matsalla