Fibromyalgia is a condition in which the brain processes pain signals in an abnormal way, according to the rheumatologist that diagnosed me with the condition almost six months ago. Symptoms include widespread pain, exhaustion, sleep problems, memory problems and a host of other issues, as explained on the Mayo Clinic website. There is no cure for fibromyalgia but there are treatments that can help. In addition to prescription medications, there are some vitamins and nutritional supplements that some people with the condition find helpful.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a number of symptoms that are common problems for people with fibromyalgia, including fatigue, depression, poor short-term memory and poor concentration. Vitamin B12 deficiency is not believed to be a cause of fibromyalgia, nor is it thought to be some sort of cure for the condition. However, if you’re experiencing several of those symptoms, there’s a possibility the cause is not fibromyalgia at all but vitamin B12 deficiency.
Your doctor can order a simple blood test to determine whether your vitamin B12 level is low. According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of deficiency may appear if your vitamin B12 level is less than 500 pg/mL. If your vitamin B12 level is low, you can take a supplement to correct the problem. If your B12 level is not low, though, taking a B12 supplement won’t help with fibromyalgia.
Like vitamin B12, vitamin D deficiency is not currently believed to be a cause of fibromyalgia. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia, however, and include things like fatigue and muscle pain. In fact, one of the first questions my rheumatologist asked me at my first appointment was if I’d had my vitamin D level checked.
Your doctor can order a blood test called a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level to check your vitamin D level. While many labs will indicate on a lab report that your vitamin D level is normal as long as it is at least 30 nmol/L, the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University website states that it should be at least 75 or 80 nmol/L for optimal health.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements often taken together, although they can also be taken individually. They are often used by people with osteoarthritis and are believed by many to strengthen cartilage and reduce pain and inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research has suggested this is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee, although more research is needed. Interestingly enough, research also suggests it may be a useful treatment for interstitial cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder, which is not uncommon in people with fibromyalgia.
My rheumatologist recommends glucosamine/chondroitin for people with fibromyalgia. While my research indicated mixed results in terms of other conditions that cause chronic pain, like osteoarthritis, and I found no studies specifically regarding fibromyalgia, I decided to follow her advice and give it a try. I have had an improvement in pain since beginning treatment, but since she also prescribed some medication to reduce pain, it’s hard to say whether or not the glucosamine/chondroitin is responsible for the improvement or not.
Turmeric is an herb sometimes used in cooking, but it can also be taken in capsule form. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may help to relieve joint point and other discomfort associated with fibromyalgia. For best results, it should be taken daily and it may take several weeks before you notice much improvement.
People taking blood thinners should not take turmeric, according to WebMD. Let your doctor know if you take turmeric because it may interfere with some other medications, as well. You may need to stop taking it a week or two before any surgical procedures to avoid the risk of excessive bleeding.
I’ve been taking turmeric for a while now, since before I was even diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I started taking it to relieve pain from degenerative disk disease in my lower back. While I still have daily pain due to fibromyalgia, I believe the turmeric does help. When I stopped taking it for two week prior to a surgical biopsy, I noticed a definite increase in pain that improved once I started taking my usual supplements again.
Mayo Clinic: Fibromyalgia
Medline Plus: Vitamin B12 Level
Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin D
Mayo Clinic: Glucosamine
Also by This Contributor:
Gift Ideas for Someone with Fibromyalgia
The Link Between Nutritional Deficiencies and Depression Drug-Free Techniques for Managing Chronic Pain