Vitamin D in Pain Management

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Oct 18;18(10):2170. doi: 10.3390/ijms18102170.


Vitamin D is a hormone synthesized in the skin in the presence of sunlight. Like other hormones, vitamin D plays a role in a wide range of processes in the body. Here we review the possible role of vitamin D in nociceptive and inflammatory pain. In observational studies, low vitamin D levels have been associated with increased pain and higher opioid doses. Recent interventional studies have shown promising effects of vitamin D supplementation on cancer pain and muscular pain-but only in patients with insufficient levels of vitamin D when starting intervention. Possible mechanisms for vitamin D in pain management are the anti-inflammatory effects mediated by reduced cytokine and prostaglandin release and effects on T-cell responses. The recent finding of vitamin D-mediated inhibition of Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is especially interesting and exhibits a credible mechanistic explanation. Having reviewed current literature, we suggest that patients with deficient levels defined as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels <30 nmol/L are most likely to benefit from supplementation, while individuals with 25-OHD >50 nmol/L probably have little benefit from supplementation. Our conclusion is that vitamin D may constitute a safe, simple and potentially beneficial way to reduce pain among patients with vitamin D deficiency, but that more randomized and placebo-controlled studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Keywords: cancer; infections; myopathy; opioid; pain; quality of life; statins; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Pain / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / metabolism*
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D