Chronic pain sufferers do not always understand the root cause of their constant discomfort. While there are cases where the pain is the result of an injury or a past illness, there are also many situations where tests after tests do not reveal any conclusive cause for their pain. For those people, in lieu of a definitive cause, many medical doctors will suggest that the problem is a psychological one and will recommend counseling as a means of managing their pain.
However, according to a recent study, evidence seems to show that chronic pain in men could be the result of a vitamin D deficiency. The UK researchers noted that chronic pain has become a major public health issue affecting nearly 1 out of every 5 people. According to the journal Medical News Today: “Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of health issues. And now, a new study to be presented at a conference run by the British Society for Rheumatology suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the body are linked to chronic widespread pain.”
Because vitamin D is only found naturally in a very limited number of foods, it is much more difficult to ensure that the body is getting an adequate amount in regular diets. This leaves a larger number of the population dealing with a deficit that could very well lead to incidents of cancer and diabetes in addition to their chronic pain.
How to Boost Your Vitamin D Levels
There are two ways to get more vitamin D into your system. Probably the most common way is to expose your bare skin to sunlight. While many people may be concerned about the risks of skin cancer, the Vitamin D Council explains that it does not take a long time for the vitamin to penetrate your skin to be of benefit. They suggest you stay out around half the time it would take for your skin to begin to burn. The amount of vitamin D you get will depend largely on several environmental factors; the time of day you’re exposed, where you are, and your skin’s pigmentation. The more skin you expose however, the more vitamin D you’ll produce.
You can also get your vitamin D through supplements or through the foods you eat. Relying on your regular diet, however, can leave you with a severe deficit as even those foods that naturally contain vitamin D have such a scant amount it is almost impossible to get what you’ll need. You’ll find trace amounts of vitamin D in foods like fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, fortified milk, orange juice, fortified cereals, and infant formula.
When it comes to supplements, make sure that you’re getting 1500-2,000 IU per day for adults and 400-1000 IU per day for infants. While there are several different forms of vitamin D supplements, the Vitamin D Council makes this recommendation: “Vitamin D3 is the type of vitamin D your body produces in response to sun exposure, while vitamin D2 is not. In the United States, most over-the-counter vitamin D supplements are D3, but check to make sure. Vitamin D2 is sometimes prescribed by doctors because that is what pharmacies have available.
There are many variables that may impact the how and how much of the vitamin D your body needs so it is recommended that you check with your doctor to get practical advice that will help you to get the adequate supply of vitamin D you need.
Alternative Treatments for Pain Caused by a Vitamin D Deficiency
Once you recognize that you have a vitamin D deficiency the next step is to boost your levels. However, it may take some time for your body to reach adequate levels to ease your chronic pain conditions, so you’ll still need to manage the pain in the meantime. Many have found success by using the TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device.
This method involves flooding the nervous system with electrical impulses to excite the sensory nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. While the TENS unit is not for everyone, ElectroTherapy.org had this to say about it: “The majority of practitioners consider TENS as a treatment option in circumstances when a patient is experiencing CHRONIC pain. … There is however, a significant and growing body of evidence that supports the use of TENS as a valid and effective intervention in ACUTE pain conditions.”
While the effectiveness of the TENS will vary from patient to patient, many actually prefer it because of its non-invasive and non-toxic advantages. Presently, there are extensive studies underway to determine the overall effectiveness of the device in dealing with all types of pain, but to date, many people have found it a very pleasant alternative to drugs and other potentially dangerous treatments that could actually cause more harm to the body than the TENS.