I have been put on Vitamin D by the pain clinic and before that, by my doctor. Both of them recommended 5000 IU of it for chronic pain.
NO. Not because I am a vampire that never sees sunlight.
Specifically for the chronic pain.
I assumed there must be conclusive evidence for this but you know it seems to be rather controversial. Sort of maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows. So I looked for this meta-analysis to look at a bunch of studies to see what it said.
So it is a Hard Maybe. You can find studies any which way on this one. So lets look at a collection.
So does Vitamin D help with chronic pain then?
There was a meta review study that looked into this. Meta review studies are interesting because they look at a collective of studies and therefore we can reduce poorly done studies or small studies and the collective gives us more certainty of data results, in my opinion. The potential anyway, if they are analyzed correctly is there.
They found it significantly reduced pain in chronic pain patients over placebo
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to various chronic pain conditions and vitamin D may influence the perception of pain through its effects on nerve conduction and health, inflammatory signaling, and immune activation.Examine.com
So that may be the ‘why’ of why vitamin D may help with chronic pain conditions. I was curious about that particular fact myself.
The meta-analysis looked at Vitamin D and pain over 4 weeks. This included 19 studies. With 3436 patients involved and an average follow-up of 3 months. The meta-analysis looked at the change in pain scare from baseline to the follow-up of both the vitamin D groups and the placebo groups. And average improvement in pain on a 10 point pain scale.
8 of the 19 studies found on the average changes in the pain scores of the patients.
Supplementation with vitamin D led to a significantly greater reduction in pain compared to the placebo (by 5.7% or 0.57 points on the 10-point scale).Examine,com
Yay? Well, not quite. In specific conditions, yes.
Now when they broke it down there was a significant benefit with Vitamin D supplements in hospitalized patients with pain conditions but Not in community living adults. So that is notable for sure.
Moreover, there were no differences in the effect of vitamin D supplementation between short-term (less than six months) and long-term (longer than six months) studies or between studies of systemic non-specific pain (fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain) and studies of localized pain (low back pain, arthritis, migraine).Examine.com
There was not enough information to compare low dose to high dosages. Or D2 to D3. And no difference in duration. And no data on different types of pain. So… not enough data is the answer there. And the resulting pain scores or improved pain levels did not differ from placebo in the end. And that means why bother then?
The results show that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduces pain compared to a placebo by an average of 5.7%. However, the final pain score and the number of individuals who reported improvements in pain were not significantly from the placebo group.Examine.com
In the end, there is not enough information. It basically says it improves pain but not subjective pain scores or improved pain compared to placebo… so no point. But not enough info on doses or D2 and D3. Or different types of pain which vary widely in how they function.
there are many different types of pain, and this meta-analysis was largely unable to separate them. Subgroup analysis was performed for nonspecific vs. localized pain. While this is an important distinction, it may oversimplify the fact that the underlying mechanisms of pain may be very different for the pathologies considered in the studies evaluated. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is very different from diabetic neuropathy, which is different from migraines, but all three could cause localized pain. It is possible that vitamin D supplementation helps some of these conditions and has no effect on others.Examine.com
Should we take vitamin D?
I know I should. It is even recommended for Canadians due to our long, harsh winters. Apparently all of us here do not get enough and that there is reason enough. But there is the suggestion in this study analysis is may help with pain and that is interesting but definitely needs a lot more research. However, there are a lot of reasons to believe vitamin D may help with pain.
Now, the best way to get Vitamin D is actually via sunlight. So one thing we can do is get more sun… take short walks, even in the winter. All that helps. But perhaps a supplement may help as well.
What Vit D does that may help with pain perception
Vitamin D is a neuroactive steroid with the ability to influence nerve communication through modulating the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, as well as activating a variety of signal transduction systems, such as those related to calcium influx and release from intracellular stores. Additionally, vitamin D upregulates the synthesis of several proteins involved in the survival, development, and function of neurons. Since chronic pain is associated with chemical, functional, and anatomical changes throughout the nervous system, these neuroprotective effects may play a role in vitamin D’s effect on pain.Eamine.com
It can also help reduce inflammation and that alone, as we all know, is a factor in pain.
There could be a link between a deficiency in vitamin D and chronic pain
Not getting enough vitamin D may be linked to chronic pain and doesn’t that put a new angle on the situation. But one that is moot when we have chronic pain already but is intriguing since it does rather link the two.
Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment.WebMD
Again many Canadians, and it turns out Americans, are rather low on Vitamin D. And that is why a boost in it is often just recommended, chronic pain or not.
Plotnikoff published a study in 2003 on 150 people in Minneapolis who came to a community health clinic complaining of chronic pain. Virtually all of them — 93% — had extremely low vitamin D levels.WebMD
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Getting sick often or infections often
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and back pain
- Impaired wound healing
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
I just wanted to add this one because so many of us are a little deficient in this one. Especially during the Winter. That doesn’t mean we cannot get that by natural means though.
Basically, no, there is no clear evidence Vitamin D will help with chronic pain. However, many of us have low amounts of it and do need to boost it naturally or with a supplement anyway. It doesn’t hurt to supplement with it and if your doctor, as mine does, recommends it then do so. If your doctor doesn’t then you know I likely wouldn’t because it when it comes to supplements less is more. And if there is no clear evidence, and there isn’t, then why would I add it to my list? These are all out of pocket and I, for one, have a very minimal budget for these. So I have to be picky. And each one I choose should be effective and hopefully do more than one thing.
But I have bone density issues, live in Canada, have chronic pain… and my doctor has recommended it for me so it is on my list. I would, on the other hand, make sure you get that natural sunlight by doing a nice walk during sunlight hours once a day… just absorb some rays because apparently we all are a little lacking in this area. And during the winter, for sure, I recommend a short walk during peak light hours for all of us. Now that is just my opinion. There clearly is no harm in taking it. And certainly a benefit in the winter. But for chronic pain, who knows if it helps? You would have to specifically add it in by itself and see if over a span there is a notable change to your pain. For me, no, there has not been but again, for bone density reasons, I think it is worth it.