Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) typically have widespread chronic pain and fatigue. For those with low vitamin D levels, vitamin D supplements can reduce pain and may be a cost-effective alternative or adjunct to other treatment, say researchers in the current issue of PAIN®.
Background: In addition to pain and fatigue, individuals diagnosed with FMS may experience sleep disorders, morning stiffness, poor concentration, and occasionally mild-to-severe mental symptoms such as anxiety or depression. The condition can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life, resulting in loss of employment and/or withdrawal from social life. There is no cure, and no treatment will address all of the symptoms, but some symptoms may be alleviated by physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, temporary drug therapy (such as amitriptyline, duloxetine, or pregabaline) and multimodal therapies.
Calcifediol (also known as calcidiol, 25-hydroxycholecalciferol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D (OH)D) is a prehormone produced in the liver by the enzyme cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Calcifediol is then converted to calcitriol (1,25-(OH)2D3), which is the active form of vitamin D. The concentration of calcifediol in blood is considered the best indicator of vitamin D status.
The Study: In a randomized controlled trial, 30 women with FMS with low serum calcifediol levels (below 32ng/ml) were randomized to a treatment or control group. The goal for the treatment group was to achieve serum calcifediol levels between 32 and 48ng/ml for 20 weeks via oral cholecalciferol supplements. Serum calcifediol levels were reevaluated after five and 13 weeks, and the dose was reviewed based on the results. The calcifediol levels were measured again 25 weeks after the start of the supplementation, at which time treatment was discontinued, and after a further 24 weeks without supplementation.
Twenty-four weeks after supplementation was stopped, a marked reduction in the level of perceived pain occurred in the treatment group. Between the first and the 25th week on supplementation, the treatment group improved significantly on a scale of physical role functioning, while the placebo group remained unchanged. The treatment group also scored significantly better on a Fibromalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) on the question of “morning fatigue.” However, there were no significant alterations in depression or anxiety symptoms.
“”Vitamin D levels should be monitored regularly in FMS patients, especially in the winter season, and raised appropriately,” explained the study author.
What You Need to Know: Vitamin D supplementation may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical treatment for those with fibromyalgia. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.
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Reference: Florian Wepner, Raphael Scheuer, Birgit Schuetz-Wieser, Peter Machacek, Elisabeth Pieler-Bruha, Heide S. Cross, Julia Hahne, Martin Friedrich. Effects of vitamin D on patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. PAIN®, 2014; 155 (2): 261 DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2013.10.002