Are Patients with Fibromyalgia at Risk for Osteoporosis of the Spine?

Study Examines Bone Mineral Density and Levels of Vitamin D in Women with Fibromyalgia

Patients with fibromyalgia have limited mobility, and they typically have less sunlight exposure. The lack of exposure to sunlight may put them at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis—including osteoporosis of the lumbar spine—because these patients may not be receiving enough vitamin D. The body creates vitamin D from the sun, and getting enough vitamin D is essential because it helps maintain healthy bones.

FibromyalgiaResearchers assessed serum vitamin D levels and bone mineral density (BMD) in women with primary fibromyalgia (PFMS), and they compared them to healthy women.

Their findings were published online in early February 2012 in the article “Serum vitamin D level and bone mineral density in premenopausal Egyptian women with fibromyalgia.” It will be published in a future edition of the journal Rheumatology International.

The study included 2 groups—a case group and a control group. There were 50 women who have PFMS in the case group, and 50 healthy women who were age-matched to the PFMS women were in the control group.

Researchers collected venous blood samples from the women; these samples were used to evaluate the participants’ serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OHD) levels.

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

Compared to the women with PFMS who had serum 25-OHD levels >20 ng/mL, the women who had serum 25-OHD levels ≤20 ng/mL were more likely to experience:

  • 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)

Using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), researchers measured lumbar spine BMD at L2-L4 anteroposterior, femoral neck, and forearm.

Aside from lumbar spine BMD, which was significantly lower in patients with PFMS compared to patients in the control group (p=0.0012), there were no significant differences in other BMD measures.

Researchers found that serum 25-OHD levels are inversely linked to 3 things: the visual analogue scale (VAS) of pain (p=0.016), Beck score for depression (p=0.020), and lumbar spine BMD (p=0.012). They also found that lumbar spine BMD was inversely linked to VAS of pain (p=0.013) and Beck score for depression (p=0.016).

According to the researchers, their findings confirmed there is a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in patients with PFMS. Their results also confirmed that fibromyalgia is a risk factor for osteoporosis. To help prevent osteoporosis—including osteoporosis of the lumbar spine—they recommend an early nutrition program that includes calcium and vitamin D, an exercise plan, and medical treatment.

Updated on: 10/18/16
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