Feature Archive

Chronic Pain: Does Vitamin D Help?

Researchers are exploring a possible link between low levels of vitamin D and chronic pain.

By Gina Shaw
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Not getting enough vitamin D in your system may be linked to chronic pain.

Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn't respond to treatment.

Many Americans are running low on vitamin D. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 showed that vitamin D levels have plummeted among all U.S. ages, races, and ethnic groups over the past two decades.

But does not having enough vitamin D cause pain? That's not yet clear. But here's what you need to know about vitamin D and chronic pain.

Boosting Vitamin D, Easing Pain

Greg Plotnikoff, MD, senior consultant with the Allina Center for Health Care Innovations in Minnesota, still remembers the woman in her 40s who told him that he was the 30th doctor she'd seen.

"Twelve of them had told her she was crazy," says Plotnikoff, formerly an associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "She had weakness, achiness, fatigue -- three pages worth of symptoms. Doctors had offered her antidepressants and seizure medications and all kinds of things that didn't work. I checked her vitamin D levels -- and they came back barely measurable."