Chronic tension headaches associated with vitamin D deficiency
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
An article published on May 3, 2017 in the journal Headache reports the results of a first-of-its-kind case-control study which found significantly lower serum vitamin D levels in adults with chronic tension-type headache compared to those without the condition.
"Muscular factors are very important in the generation of tension-type headache," write Sanjay Prakash and colleagues of Smt. B. K. Shah Medical Institute and Research Center in Gujarat, India. "Pericranial muscular tenderness and electromyography changes in these pericranial muscles support this hypothesis."
"Epidemiological studies suggest a strong association between low serum vitamin D levels and chronic musculoskeletal pain," they continue. "Therefore, an interrelation between tension-type headache and vitamin D can also be speculated."
The study matched 100 men and women suffering from chronic tension headaches with 100 healthy control subjects. Questionnaire responses provided information concerning the participants' demographics, headache characteristics, and the presence of pain at other body sites. Clinical examinations assessed muscle pain, tenderness and weakness, and bone tenderness. Blood samples were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and other factors.
Among chronic tension headache patients, average serum vitamin D levels were 14.7 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in comparison to an average of 27.4 ng/mL among those who did not have the condition. Vitamin D deficiency, defined as serum vitamin D levels of less than 20 ng/mL, was uncovered in 71% of those with tension headaches, compared to 25% of the control group.
Deficiency was more common among subjects who experienced daily or near daily headache. Only 6% of the headache patients had normal levels of vitamin D, defined as amounts greater than 30 ng/mL, in contrast with 37% of the controls. In comparison with participants whose level of vitamin D was 30 ng/mL or higher, those who were deficient in vitamin D were more than 17 times as likely to have chronic tension-type headaches.
Fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, muscle tenderness, muscle weakness and bone tenderness were more prevalent among those with chronic tension headaches than among those without the condition. A significant association was observed between low serum vitamin D and increased bone and muscle tenderness.
"Vitamin D deficiency closely mimics chronic tension type headache," the authors conclude. They suggest the initiation of intervention studies to determine whether vitamin D supplementation among chronic tension headache sufferers is an effective therapy.
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