March 22, 2009
Low Vitamin D People Take More Pain Medications

People who have chronic pain use more pain killers if they have low blood vitamin D.

ROCHESTER, Minn. Mayo Clinic research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic pain. This correlation is an important finding as researchers discover new ways to treat chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States. These patients often end up taking narcotic-type pain medication such as morphine, fentanyl or oxycodone.

This study found that patients who required narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, were taking much higher doses of pain medication nearly twice as much as those who had adequate levels. Similarly, these patients self-reported worse physical functioning and worse overall health perception. In addition, a correlation was noted between increasing body mass index (a measure of obesity) and decreasing levels of vitamin D. Study results were published in a recent edition of Pain Medicine.

"This is an important finding as we continue to investigate the causes of chronic pain," says Michael Turner, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Mayo Clinic and lead author of the study. "Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength. Conversely, deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning. By recognizing it, physicians can significantly improve their patients' pain, function and quality of life."

One can explain these results in ways unrelated to a benefit from vitamin D. It could be that people who are more in pain are less ambulatory and so they get outside less and get less exposure to sunlight (which causes vitamin D synthesis in the skin).

But the correlations between low vitamin D and health are impressive.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (Dec. 8, 2003) -- People with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain should be screened regularly for vitamin D deficiency, the leading study in tomorrow's Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports. Research conducted at the University of Minnesota found that 93 percent of all subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients I take as a supplement.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 22 02:11 PM  Brain Pain

Nick G said at March 22, 2009 2:52 PM:

"Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients I take as a supplement."

Have you had your levels tested? How much are you taking?

I was taking 2,000 iu/day, and my level was still low (about 30, IIRC). I've gone to 10k temporarily, and then will probably go back to 5k/day.

Randall Parker said at March 22, 2009 2:57 PM:

Nick G,

No, haven't been tested. But I go years without seeing a doctor.

I want to find a way to get blood tests without having to see a doctor.

Keith Welch said at March 22, 2009 6:47 PM: offers self ordered blood tests including Vitamin D.

auntulna said at March 23, 2009 6:50 AM: can connect you with tests you can order yourself.

Anonymous said at March 29, 2010 10:12 PM:

I have cronic lower back pain, foot pain, hip pain, leg cramps, and headaches. My level is 8.

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