Low Vitamin D and Chronic Pain
My recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia is still sinking in. Truth be told, I’m having a tough time embracing it as an “official medical condition” given that it’s loosely defined as a hodgepodge of this and that, with a few “psychiatric” undertones thrown in for good measure.
But, make no mistake about it. The aches and pains of fibromyalgia are real – very real. It’s just nailing down the actual cause of those aches and pains that seems to be the challenge for the medical community, apparently.
Fortunately for me, I received a little bit of good news this week which might shed some light on this not-so-clearly-defined-condition, and it came by way of my blood work. It seems that my Vitamin D levels are extremely low.
This is significant because some of the symptoms of low Vitamin D are: fatigue, general muscle pain and weakness, muscle cramps, and chronic joint pain – all of which I’ve been experiencing for quite some time. Low Vitamin D is also associated with diseases such as: multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and yes, fibromyalgia as well.
I am now taking 50,000 units of Vitamin D twice a week for 8 weeks, and will then take 50,000 units once a month for a few more months after that. While I don’t expect this therapy to fix all of my aches and pains, I am definitely on my way to addressing the problem.
I do remain intrigued, however, with the fact that the majority of fibromyalgia patients are women, and that like me, many of them are also menopausal. Given the fact that the connection between low Vitamin D and chronic pain is commonly known, I cannot help but wonder if simply improving diet and perhaps introducing necessary supplements to address deficiencies, might not a better course of action to help menopausal women suffering with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, instead of just doling out antidepressants right off the bat as my Rheumatologist did?
I do realize that antidepressants have their place in medicine, and provide very real relief for a lot of patients. I also realize that a lot of women (and men for that matter) are more than happy to take them. I just personally have a problem with the fact that they seem to be the standard “go-to” therapy for pretty much everything from depression to chronic pain, and to mood swings and hot flashes for women in menopause. Is this really necessary?
I don’t know. But, it definitely seems like a question that is worth asking.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.