Is Serum Hypovitaminosis D Associated with Chronic Widespread Pain Including Fibromyalgia? A Meta-analysis of Observational Studies

Pain Physician. Sep-Oct 2015;18(5):E877-87.


Background: Chronic widespread pain (CWP) is a global musculoskeletal disorder leading to disability and a reduced quality of life. Low levels of serum vitamin D has long been proposed to be associated with CWP, but previous research remains inconclusive.

Objectives: To determine whether hypovitaminosis D was independently associated with CWP.

Study design: Meta-analysis of observational study.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched for studies published up to November 2014 comparing the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D and serum vitamin D levels between participants with and without CWP. The crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) of hypovitaminosis D with CWP were calculated. Subgroup analysis according to gender, threshold of hypovitaminosis, and definition of patients was performed, as well as meta-regression to test the linear relationship between crude ORs and the latitude of study locations.

Results: Twelve studies were included, comprising 1,854 patients with CWP. The patient group showed a significantly higher risk of hypovitaminosis D than the control group (crude OR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.20-2.23). The association was slightly attenuated after adjusting confounders, with a pooled adjusted OR of 1.41 (95% CI, 1.00-2.00). There was an increase in ORs of hypovitaminosis D using a lower diagnostic value of serum vitamin D (8 and 10 ng/mL). The subgroup analysis according to gender and definition of CWP did not reveal significant between-group differences. The meta-regression showed no linear relationship between latitude and the crude ORs.

Conclusions: There was a positive crude association between hypovitaminosis D and CWP, and the association was likely to remain after adjusting confounding factors. Use of a cut-off value of hypovitaminosis D (8-10 ng/mL) could better define the population with and without CWP. Further prospective follow-up studies are warranted to clarify the causal relationship between hypovitaminosis D and CWP.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / complications*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Fibromyalgia / complications*
  • Fibromyalgia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology