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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Study: Vitamin D improves pain, sleep, and quality of life in chronic pain patients

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine report in a recent study that after supplementing with vitamin D, chronic pain patients reported improvements in pain, lack of sleep, and quality of life.

Huang W, Shah S, Long Q, Crankshaw AK, Tangpricha V. Improvement of pain, sleep and quality of life in chronic pain patients with vitamin D supplementation. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2012 June 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Chronic pain is characterized by pain lasting longer than the point of healing, or pain exceeding 3-6 months. It is estimated that up to 40% of westerners have experienced chronic pain in their life. While chronic pain can stem from a number of different disorders, psychiatric or physical, the management of this type of pain can be difficult.

In this study, Dr Wei Huang and colleagues collected serum samples from 28 US veterans and separated them based on vitamin D status, insufficient (20-29ng/mL) and deficient (<20ng/mL). The insufficient group was supplemented with 1,200 IU/day vitamin D3 and the deficient group supplemented with 50,000 IU/week vitamin D2, both administered orally for 3 months.

Before and after supplementation, the researchers collected vitamin D serum levels as well as conducted standardized assessments of pain, sleep quality/quantity, and overall quality of life.

The mean vitamin D level before supplementation was 18.6 ng/mL, which improved to 26 ng/mL after 3 months. In this time, the participants’ pain decreased from mean score 7.11 to 5.68 (1-10 scale, 10 worst pain). Also, 64% of veterans in the sample had chronic pain in more than 3 areas of their body, but after supplementation, the number of pain areas decreased by 53.6%.

The participants’ scores for sleep quality were evaluated before and after supplementation as well. For their test, scores could range from 0-21, with lower scores representing better sleep. Their average sleep score was 13.5, well above the normal and healthy population average of 5. There was an improvement in sleep scores after supplementation, scores improving to a mean of 12.2 (p=0.001). Sleep latency and sleep duration improved significantly, while sleep efficacy improved insignificantly after controlling for confounding factors.

There were significant improvements seen in quality of life, including general health, vitality, and social functioning, while there were borderline significant improvements seen in physical functioning.

The obvious shortcoming in this study is lack of placebo to compare results to, so the effects of vitamin D cannot necessarily be separated from a placebo effect. However, the average vitamin D level was deficient, and improving vitamin D status is a simple and easy step. As always, Huang and colleagues called for further research, with a placebo group to compare to.

In the meantime, this interventional study gives people with chronic pain the option to use vitamin D as part of their treatment of chronic pain.

  About: Kate Saley

Kate was the Community Coordinator for the Vitamin D Council between 2012-2013. She oversaw the Council’s social media, blog, newsletter and membership base. Kate is currently going to school for occupational therapy.

5 Responses to Study: Vitamin D improves pain, sleep, and quality of life in chronic pain patients

  1. mhaddad02 says:

    I can attest this is absolutely true. My levels were tested and found to be 14. I started on 2,000 for a week, then increased amount to 4,000 IU daily of D3. I have personally after 3 weeks now, have had a significant improvement in movement, pain went from an 8 to 4 or 5 (which I noticed is worse when I don’t get sun on that particular day), and I have less swelling in my wrists, feet and ankles. My reading is to be done again in another week. So I am interested in my progress vs. levels. I can actually clean my house without feeling like a train ran over me. I’ve been suffering for just over 2 years. This realization has changed my daily life, I wish I had found out sooner!

  2. mhaddad02 says:

    BTW… havent’ noticed any difference in sleep. However I must be getting a better sleep, as I have found I am more alert and active first thing in the morning. I have never been a morning person, ever.

  3. This study nicely complements the scores of other studies showing reduction of all kinds of pain with vitamin D. Perhaps vitamin D should be taken while waiting months for medical care in such countries as Canada

  4. chrisb says:

    I can testify to these findings wholeheartedly. From the Autumn of 2010 I had chronic (and I mean chronic) back pain between my shoulder blades, coupled with an all over bodily neuropathy, plus found it very difficult to walk. This prevented me from sleeping for 3 whole months despite extremely strong painkillers from my GP. I had a chest x-ray, MRI scan and CT scan, but nothing could be found. I saw three specialists: an orthopaedic surgeon, a Neurologist and had Chiropractor treatment in vain. I was told that I would just have to live with the condition, but after supplementing with Vitamin D3 of 8000ius per day, the pain subsided within about 4 weeks on a gradual basis, and permanently gone by two months. I was able to return to work and have lived a normal life ever since. Thank God for the Vitamin D Council and other sources that are publicising information about Vitamin D.

  5. troddinon@bellsouth.net says:

    About six years ago when vitamin D deficiency was relatively unheard of, I grew very tired of chronic pain. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia twice but all my doctor could offer me was Lyrica, a drug that I was unwilling to take due to awful side effects. Then I read a tiny article in the newspaper linking fibro to D-deficiency. I began taking1,000IU. About three weeks later, I awoke feeling like a million bucks. It took me a minute to realize I had NO pain! I have been a dedicated “fan” ever since. I no longer have the pain-depression syndrome and have not had a single cold or virus. I increased my dosage early on and am now taking 5,000 iu three days a week. I love reading Pub Med research studies and give thanks to God every day for the researchers who work on this very important “miracle”.