When pain presents itself, one’s first instinct is to find relief from the pain. And while pain is the number one reason why people seek medical advice, it is interesting to note that everyone is an individual in regard to their own personal relationship to pain. Regardless of how one measures pain, it has a tremendous impact on society as a whole and is the reason for millions of lost work hours and, most importantly, a poor quality of life. Pain is usually divided into two categories – acute and chronic. Acute pain is the type that comes on suddenly when a tissue has been injured. Chronic pain can be, among other things, chronic lower-back pain, chronic headaches, cancer pain, or phantom limb pain. Chronic pain is generally associated with a chronic disease and lacks a clear cause. This is pain that exists past the normal expected healing time. Researchers are finding social support significantly influences chronic pain intensity.
Musculoskeletal pain can involve the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Lower back pain is the most common and other types include tendonitis, myalgia (muscle pain) and stress fractures.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin because it is formed in the body by the action of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on the skin. The fat-soluble vitamin is converted in the kidneys to the hormone calcitrol, which is actually the most active form of vitamin D. The effects of this hormone are targeted at the intestines and bones. When vitamin D deficiency occurs, bone mineralization is impaired which leads to bone loss.
A recent study sought to determine whether low levels of vitamin D can be linked to musculoskeletal pain in men. The study included 3,075 men between the ages of 40 and 70 years who completed pain assessment questionnaires, lifestyle questionnaires, physical performance tests and fasting blood levels of vitamin D. It was found that 1,262 participants were pain-free, 1,550 reported other pain that was not classified as chronic widespread pain and 263 men reported that they experienced chronic widespread pain. Researchers discovered that compared to those who reported no pain, those with other pain or chronic widespread pain were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D. Even after adjusting for age, participants who reported other pain were 30% more likely to have low vitamin D levels, and those who reported chronic widespread pain were 50% more likely to have insufficient levels of vitamin D. These results suggest that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have musculoskeletal pain and that further studies should be carried out to determine whether dietary or supplemental vitamin D could help alleviate pain in some individuals.1
1 McBeth J, Pye SR, O’Neill TW, et al. Musculoskeletal pain is associated with very low levels of vitamin D in men: results from the European Male Ageing Study. Ann Rheum Dis. May2010.