The Link Between Vitamin D and Neuropathic Pain
Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is an important nutrient that the body needs in order to lead and maintain a healthy life – both physically and mentally. Vitamin D serves many vital bodily functions, including improving muscle function, giving strength to the bones, maintaining proper calcium levels, as well as protecting against cardiovascular diseases.
It is essential for every individual; however, vitamin D is especially crucial to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
According to several research studies, many individuals with RA have lower levels of vitamin D than those who do not have the condition. This, in turn, has led a few researchers to believe that vitamin D deficiency may not only trigger the development of RA, but it may also cause a few symptoms to worsen. “As in nearly all autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases, it appears that lower levels of 25OH vitamin D — although there is not agreement on how low is low — are associated with a more aggressive disease or a worse response to treatments” said Carlo Selmi, rheumatologist and assistant professor of rheumatology at the University of Milan.
Apart from boosting bone strength and muscle function, vitamin D also plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy immune system. According to Dr. Margherita Cantorna, professor of molecular immunology at Penn State in University Park, vitamin D slows down the area in the immune system that is known for triggering inflammation in arthritis. Due to the fact that individuals with RA have high levels of inflammation, vitamin D can help control the condition and alleviate symptoms.
Recent medical research
A recent study, led by Hilal Yesil from Afyon Kocatepe University in Turkey and colleagues, found that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to increased neuropathic pain in patients with RA. The researchers used the Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs (LANSS) questionnaire in order to assess the development of neuropathic pain in 93 patients with RA. Additional medical information on the patents was obtained through their medical files and interviews. According to the LANSS, the researchers found that 75 of the patients were women and 31 were diagnosed with neuropathic pain. They also uncovered a negative connection between the LANSS score and vitamin D levels.
Moreover, among patients with serum vitamin D levels below 20ng/ML, the researchers found that the occurrence of neuropathic pain was 5.8 times higher than in patients with vitamin D levels above 30ng/ML. This, in turn, led the research team to believe that serum levels of vitamin D were a proper predictor for neuropathic pain diagnoses in patients with RA and that vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased neuropathic pain in patients with RA. “Although further research is needed to clarify the association between serum vitamin D levels and NP, our study raises awareness of the need to screen for vitamin D deficiency in RA patients with NP” wrote the researchers.
Read on to learn more about why vitamin D is so important for those with rheumatoid arthritis.