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Fibromyalgia Pain Relieved By Vitamin D

Update Date: Jan 17, 2014 05:17 PM EST

Vitamin D may help reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), according to a new study.

Researchers note that the supplement may work for those with low vitamin D levels.

Fibromyalgia syndrome sufferers experience pain, fatigue, sleep disorders, morning stiffness, poor concentration and occasionally mild-to-severe mental symptoms like anxiety or depression.

While there is no cure and no treatment to address all the symptoms, some symptoms can be relieved by physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, temporary drug therapy and multimodal therapies.

The latest study wanted to see whether vitamin D supplementation would decrease the intensity of chronic pain experienced by FMS patients with low vitamin D status.

"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," lead researcher Dr. Florian Wepner of the Department of Orthopaedic Pain Management, Spine Unit, Orthopaedic Hospital, Speising, Vienna, Austria, said in a news release.

"We therefore set out to determine whether raising the calcifediol levels in these patients would alleviate pain and cause a general improvement in concomitant disorders," Wepner added.

The latest study involved 30 women with FMS with low serum calcium levels. Participants were divided into a treatment or control group. Researchers looked at the vitamin D levels five, 13 and 25 weeks after the start of supplementation at which the treatment was discontinued and another 24 weeks without supplementation.

Researchers found a significant reduction in the level of perceived pain in the treatment group. Participants in the treatment group also improved on a scale of physical role functioning and scored significantly better on a Fibromalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) on the question of "morning fatigue." However, there were no significant differences in depression or anxiety between the two groups.

"We believe that the data presented in the present study are promising. FMS is a very extensive symptom complex that cannot be explained by a vitamin D deficiency alone. However, vitamin D supplementation may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical treatment for FMS patients and an extremely cost-effective alternative or adjunct to expensive pharmacological treatment as well as physical, behavioral, and multimodal therapies," said Wepner. "Vitamin D levels should be monitored regularly in FMS patients, especially in the winter season, and raised appropriately."

The findings are published in the journal PAIN

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