Is Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Depression and generally all things yuck?
First off, I’m no scientist. I don’t claim to be. But I am somewhat literate, honest ‘guv. I can read, assimilate research, and well I have a vested interest in the form of the Fecking-F: Fibromyalgia, and my eternal quest to lessen the pain. I also happened to be bumbling along through life quite gaily tallying up a fairly hefty Vitamin D deficiency along the way. Before it got trendy, I’ll add.
The Medical Cocktail vs The Humble Vitamin
In the early days of misdiagnosis I took some horrific cocktail of medication. If you’ve been there, you’ll know the desperation. You will literally take anything to try and help you through the day: yes green and pink psychedelic bullets I’m looking at you, along with regular painful injections. Then I got, we think, correctly diagnosed and that 27-pill combo was replaced with two: one of which is the oh so humble Vitamin D3.
Within 6 months my Fibro symptoms were significantly reduced. Not gone by any stretch of the imagination but most definitely reduced. I could walk more, I slept better, the pain was, by and large, there, but manageable. I could lift my own children.
Then, an inconspicuous little day somewhere about six months ago came along. Juggling the crazy life of three young children (with their own twisty dynamics) and starting work for the first time since the eldest was born, life got somewhat hectically chaotic, and in the midst I ran out of Vitamin D3 stocks from my trusty online supplier. No worries, down to the chemist the husband popped and life resumed normality.
Oops, Made a Mistake There
Fast forward six months. Without me noticing, the pain had crept up. And then BAM, winter bugs hit. Four nights in a month saw me begging to die I was in so much pain. With midnight calls to medics I ended up with Oramorph. Every other pain medication I own (and as other Fibro sufferers will know my Bathroom Cabinet resembles a Chemist all by itself) weren’t even touching the sides. My husband was worried. I just wanted to die. And then I was ill, really quite ill. Again. And again. And again.
Whilst lying in bed, hacking my lungs out, but feeling, generally somewhat more alive, I glanced over at that little inconspicuous bottle on my bedside table. And with that glance came back the day, probably 7 years ago, when my slightly hippy consultant mixed with NHS haste had said the words “don’t scrimp, you need the big guns, Vit D3, strongest dose, don’t stop”. I compared the two. I’d need to take something insane like 40 of the chemist own brand generic Vit D tablets to equate to one of the Superstrength Vitamin D3 tablets that my husband had been buying for me like the Old Romantic he is. I had been taking shit. I was farting in a thunderstorm and hoping to be heard.
So what’s the story – could this little sunshine vitamin be the reason I’ve spent more time in bed than on my feet this last month? Could it be the reason I’ve experienced pain that’s left me begging to die? Could it be the reason my immunity seems to have taken a hefty nosedive again?
Facts & Statistics, And All Things Boring
As I say, I’m not a medic. I’m just little humble old me and my anecdotal wittering. But just a quick Google of ‘Fibromyalgia and Vitamin D’ or ‘Chronic Pain and Vitamin D’ leaves you with your reading supplies sorted for the next century. There’s something in it. Chicken or egg, misdiagnoses plus red-herrings, the average Fibro sufferer is going to find themselves worshiping the Sun God Rah for raining down on us this humble little vitamin, that actually likes to masquerade as a hormone in its Sunday Best.
43% of women in the UK with Fibromyalgia have low levels of Vit D. Yeah yeah, we all live under a rain cloud, no big deal. Except, only 19% of women in the UK without Fibromyalgia have the same levels of deficiency (hint: we need some sunshine, seriously). Whether it’s cause or effect, there’s some kind of link there.
There are certainly those out there in the Fibro Science Field doing some work on it for us, and they wouldn’t be doing that without reason.
So Why’s It Matter?
Why’s it matter?! Well you’re only going to be asking that if you’re not a fellow wanderer on a Quest to Fix This Thing. Fibro Pain sucks. Like really sucks. Day in. Day out. Some days it’s like someone replaced the blood in my veins with needles, sharp, nasty little buggers. Other days it’s like someone took superglue to my joints and thought they’d have some fun. Other days it’s like the Little Gremlins of my body are playing tug of war with my muscle fibres. And on days like those 4 days this last month? It’s like all three combined with an amplifier for good measure. And that’s just the pain, don’t get me started on the Fatigue.
And then go look up the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, and someone just copied my list of metaphors. And there’s the big whammy: Vitamin D deficiency symptoms look like you got confused whilst copying your mate Fibro’s homework. The symptoms are uncannily similar. And don’t forget our little buddy Fatigue – he gets grumpy without enough Vitamin D too.
But Does it Actually Matter?
Exactly, does it matter what the reason is as to why you’re in pain, whether the two are connected, whether he’s right or she’s wrong? Does the reason actually matter when all you want is to reduce the pain so that you can get through a day without being Mrs Grumps? There seems to be no doubting that the whole topic needs a whopping load more research. There are theories that the reason Vitamin D reduces pain is because a higher level of it reduces inflammation because of cytokine production (big science-y word there), and inflammation isn’t a friend to Fibro. Interesting stuff. But it seems to be as simple as 1+1=2 that if you have chronic pain, for goodness sake get your vitamin D level checked, and sorted. And don’t be an idiot like me who failed to read the label, and get something that’s going to actually have an effect. You’d kick yourself if it wasn’t so painful.
Wahey! Vitamin D Here We Come
I’ll say it again, just in case you didn’t hear: I’m not a scientist, I’m not a medic. I’m just little humble me with my own musings and my own battle to fight. Do your research. Get to Know Your Stuff. Vitamin D3 is a different persona to D2, and you’ll need to wade through all sorts (see here for a starting point). In the meantime, oily fish are your diet go-to, but look in to it. If nothing else it might just give those Tug O War Gremlins on your muscle fibres a break. Vitamin D supports healthy bone renewal, promotes normal cell growth and is a big whammy when it comes to a strong immune system, so it makes sense for Fibro sufferers not to ignore it.
And if you’d like to do some more reading about Fibromyalgia and Vitamin D, or simply see a lovely relaxing picture of a sunset, then see here. Get reading.