Holistic pain management seeks to find treatment options to manage and treat pain in a way that works with the physiology of the body rather than against it. One very basic example of this is through identifying vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D is a vitamin that has large implications for treating chronic pain. In this article we will explore the role of vitamin D in holistic pain management.
Vitamin D has been implicated in many research papers for pain relief, yet it is still very under utilized by doctors in the pain management field. The likely reason for this, is the lack of knowledge about this vitamin's effectiveness to treat pain. Keep in mind that vitamin D does not treat pain like your typical pain medication. Taking vitamin D will not cause immediate pain relief. It only works for pain relief when there is a deficiency or inadequacy present in the body. But these deficiencies or inadequacies are quite common. In these cases it will take several months for it to have its pain relieving effects, as it works on an underlying physiological process. Working on and improving the underlying human physiology is the exact approach holistic pain management takes. Let's look at how vitamin D deficiency causes pain.
Holistic Pain Management: Physiolgocial role of vitamin D
Vitamin D is well known for its role in maintaining serum calcium and bone health. When vitamin D deficiencies are present bone tissue forms into a weak gelatin like substance rather than its hard counterpart. This leads to fluid absorption in the bone which pushes against the bone causing pain. In severe case this is referred to as osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiency does cause osteomalacia but the more common problem is a subclinical or undetectable osteomalcia process where there is mild fluid retention. This process can effect any of the bones throughout the body (legs, spine, ribs, arms, etc) and can come about from even slight inadequacies of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, generalized musculoskeletal pain, and Myositis.
Holistic Pain Management: Vitamin D for specific pain conditions
While musculoskeletal and fibromylagia like conditions seem to be the most plausible conditions effected by vitamin D status, it may be important in other conditions as well. There are vitamin D receptors on virtually every tissue in the body not just bone and muscle. It makes sense then that vitamin D would play a role in these other organ functions as well..
Neuropathy: A study of 51 patients with chronic neuopathy had 50% reduction in pain levels after supplementation with vitamin D for only 3 months.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions: Several animal studies have demonstrated the ability of vitamin D to decrease inflammatory markers such as CRP. As a result it is likely helpful in many inflammatory conditions.
Mood and Pain levels: There is substantial evidence that supports the link between depression and chronic pain. How this is associated with vitamin D has not been fully realized. There have been a few studies showing the relationship of vitamin D on neurotransmitters. A placebo controlled trial in patients with clinical depression found that those who took vitamin D self reported enhancements in their mood.
Holistic Pain Management: How much to take
For holistic pain management, it is recommended that you have your Phoenix pain management doctor check your levels to ensure the right dose. If you are really low you might start with a higher dose and then lower the dose as your levels increase. It is important to note that you can get too much vitamin D and taking large doses for long periods will cause serious health issues. On the other hand you want to make sure you are getting enough to prevent the pain and health issues noted above. Checking your levels at regular intervals will allow you to achieve optimal dosing and levels in your body. Enough to prevent issues with pain but not get too much to cause problems.
The references and information in this article were made possible with the help of Dr Leavitt's articles on holistic pain management and vitamin D.
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