VITAMIN D for Chronic Pain Syndromes

Innovations in Pain Theory, Research, & Practice

VITAMIN D for Chronic Pain Syndromes

According to peer-reviewed clinical research, inadequacies of vitamin D have been linked to chronic musculoskeletal pain of various types, muscle weakness or fatigue, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorders, osteoarthritis, hyperesthesia, migraine headaches, and other somatic complaints. It also has been implicated in the mood disturbances of chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder.

Current best evidence demonstrates that supplemental vitamin D can help to resolve or alleviate chronic pain and fatigue syndromes in many patients who have been unresponsive to other therapies. Vitamin D therapy is easy for patients to self-administer, is well tolerated, and is very economical. The documents on this page provide detailed background information and practice recommendations.

Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

An Evidence-Based Review & Clinical Practice Guidance

 Practitioner Briefing…

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

Download PDF: (260 KB, 7-pages)

This special 7-page briefing for healthcare providers summarizes key background information and practice recommendations from the full report (see below). The vitamin D “endocrine system” is described, along with its relationship to chronic pain syndromes.

The briefing describes how to put vitamin D supplementation for chronic pain syndromes into clinical practice, including a proposed dosing protocol. In the final analysis, supplemental vitamin D has a favorable benefit to cost ratio with minimal, if any, risks. It should be considered early in the course of treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes.

 Full Report…

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

Download PDF: (770 KB, 50-pages)

This 50-page, peer-reviewed report provides an extensive discussion of vitamin D and its application for chronic pain syndromes. It is based on a comprehensive review of the literature, and 170 reference citations are included.

The full report is intended to provide a complete understanding and clinical recommendations regarding vitamin D for medical staff, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. It responds to questions practitioners may have regarding why, when, how, and for whom to recommend vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D: A Champion of Pain Relief


 Patient Brochure…

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

Download PDF: (200 KB, 6-pages)

This 6-page brochure for patients and/or their caregivers explains in easy-to-understand language what vitamin D is and how it works. In a question-and-answer format it describes how inadequate vitamin D intake may play a role in muscle, bone, or joint pain, as well as the potential benefits and what to expect from vitamin D supplementation. Patients are advised that they should not discontinue other prescribed therapies for pain and to consult their healthcare providers when starting a vitamin D supplementation program.

PPM Journal Features Vitamin D

Vitamin D for Chronic Pain

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Practical Pain Management, 2008(Jul/Aug);8(6):24-42.

Download PDF: (1 MB, 13-pages)


This 13-page feature article appeared in the July/August 2008 edition of the medical journal Practical Pain Management (PPM). It condenses information from the full 50-page Report (see above) but is still fully documented (138 references).

In sum, extensive clinical evidence and expert commentary supports the opinion that recommending adequate vitamin D intake for helping patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue syndromes should be more widely recognized and acted upon. In many cases, contributing factors are nonspecific or undetermined. Even in cases where a specific etiology has been diagnosed, the potential for vitamin D deficit as a factor contributing to and/or prolonging the pain condition should not be ruled out. Supplemental vitamin D has a highly favorable benefit to cost ratio, with minimal, if any, risks. In all likelihood, it would do no harm and probably could do much good.

Updated Research Evidence on Vitamin D for Pain


In summer 2008 we published the ground-breaking research reviews above, focusing extensively on the potential benefits of vitamin D for patients with chronic pain conditions, particularly musculoskeletal and back pain. Since that time, regularly published supplements have been added to the Pain-Topics News/Research UPDATES weblog, which summarize the latest relevant research findings and commentary on the subject.