Is Fibromyalgia a Risk Factor for Osteoporosis?

Researchers Look at Vitamin D Levels and Bone Mineral Density in Women with Fibromyalgia

the word fibromyalgia across a computer monitorPatients who have fibromyalgia often have limited mobility, and because of this, they have less exposure to sunlight. This lack of sunlight exposure may put them at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis because they may not be getting enough vitamin D, which the body naturally makes when exposed to the sun.  Since vitamin D is important to bone health, maintaining adequate levels is important.

In a new case-control study, researchers evaluated serum vitamin D levels and bone mineral density (BMD) values in patients who have primary fibromyalgia (PFMS) and compared them to healthy women.

The study was published online in February 2012 in the article “Serum vitamin D level and bone mineral density in premenopausal Egyptian women with fibromyalgia.” The article will be published in an upcoming issue of Rheumatology International.

There were 2 groups in the study—a case group and a control group. A total of 50 women who have PFMS were included in the case group, and 50 healthy women who were age-matched to the PFMS patients made up the control group.

Researchers gathered venous blood samples from all the participants, and these samples were used to asses serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OHD) levels.

The researchers found that the participants with PFMS had significantly lower serum 25-OHD (15.1±6.1 ng/mL) than participants in the control group (18.8±5.4 ng/mL) (P=0.0018).

Compared to the participants with PFMS who had serum 25-OHD levels of more than 20 ng/mL, the patients with serum 25-OHD levels that were less than or equal to 20 ng/mL were more likely to have the following:

  • confusion (50% vs 18.2%; P=0.0199)
  • impaired short memory (46.4% vs 13.6%; P= 0.0136)
  • mood disturbances (60.7% vs 27.3%; P=0.0185)
  • palpitations (67.9% vs 36.4%; P=0.0265)
  • restless leg syndrome (57.1% vs 27.3%; P=0.0346)
  • sleep disturbances (53.6% vs 22.7%; P=0.0271)

They also used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure BMD at the lumbar spine (L2-L4) anteroposterior, femoral neck, and forearm.

Other than the BMD in the lumbar spine—which was significantly lower in the patients with PFMS compared to the patients in the control group (P=0.0012)—there was no significant difference in other measures of BMD.

The research team found that serum 25-OHD levels is inversely associated with the visual analogue scale (VAS) of pain (P=0.016), Beck score for depression (P=0.020), and lumbar spine BMD (P=0.012). Additionally, they found that lumbar spine BMD was inversely linked to VAS of pain (P=0.013) and Beck score for depression (P=0.016).

They concluded that their findings confirmed that there is a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in patients who have PFMS. The study also confirmed that fibromyalgia is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Researchers recommend an early nutrition program that includes calcium and vitamin D, an appropriate exercise plan, and medical treatment to help prevent osteoporosis.

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