Vitamin D deficiency in people with chronic pain

According to a study presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists 2007 Annual Meeting, about 1 in 4 people with chronic pain also have inadequate blood levels of vitamin D.

First, the details as reported by NewsWise.

  • Vitamin D blood levels were measured in 267 adults being treated for chronic pain.
  • Their pain medicine (morphine) dose and duration of use, and physical and general health functioning were also recorded.

The results revealed that 26% had vitamin D inadequacy.

  • Their morphine dose was nearly twice that of the group with adequate vitamin D levels.
  • The use of morphine averaged 71 months vs 44 months in patients with adequate vitamin D levels.
  • A vitamin D deficient was also associated with lower levels of physical functioning and poorer view of overall health.

The bottom line?
The study author, Dr. W. Michael Hooten from the Mayo Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Center in Rochester, Minnesota put all this into perspective.

  • It’s known that inadequate levels of vitamin D can cause pain and muscle weakness.
  • Studies also suggest that pain-related symptoms of vitamin D inadequacy respond poorly to pain medications.
  • This study established the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy among a diverse group of people with chronic pain.

“Vitamin D inadequacy is not the principal cause of pain and muscle weakness; however, it could be a contributing but unrecognized factor,? Dr. Hooten said.

It would be interesting to see if correcting the vitamin D blood levels in people with chronic pain improved their response to pain medicine.

Who is a greatest risk of a vitamin D deficiency?

A couple of years ago, Dr. Alan Gaby, writing in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients stated, “People who live at northern latitudes, stay indoors, or cover themselves completely with clothing or sunscreen, are at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. Obesity, old age, malabsorption, or avoidance of vitamin D-fortified foods such as dairy products, also increase the risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D.

Measuring 25-hydroxyvitamin D is an easy test to do.

10/15/07 15:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.