Sun Therapy for Fibro

by Kristin Thorson, Fibromyalgia Network Editor
Posted: May 26, 2011

The sun can soothe sore muscles and induce relaxation, but that’s not all.1 A new study shows UV rays may also reduce fibromyalgia pain by triggering your skin cells to make more vitamin D.2

Regular sun exposure causes your skin to produce vitamin D, which does more than maintain healthy bones and build strong muscles. This essential vitamin is known for its immune system effects on relieving pain and inflammation. Making sure you get adequate sun exposure should lead to greater vitamin D levels and less fibromyalgia pain … at least in theory.

A team in Israel put this theory to the test. Their study included 60 chronic pain patients, primarily those with fibromyalgia, but also patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. All subjects sun-bathed briefly each day for three weeks under medical supervision. Pain levels, disease severity, and serum vitamin D were measured before and after the three-week period.

Vitamin D increased by 25%, regardless of whether the patient had fibromyalgia or arthritis. Greater changes in vitamin levels correlated with the degree of improvements in pain and disease severity. The research team comments that their findings “support the hypothesis that increased serum vitamin D may reduce musculoskeletal pain.”

Minimize Risks

Exposure to sun places people at risk for skin cancer.3 Dermatologists Steven Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., and Sarah Taylor, M.D., at Wake Forest University, offer the following advice for FM patients who find the sun helpful:

  • Short, controlled increments (less than 15 minutes), 2-3 times a week, are best.
  • Cover your neck with a cloth and wear a hat that shades your face. These are the most common areas for skin cancer.
  • Wear a cover-up if the warmth of the sun reduces your pain, and wear sun screen.

1. Taylor SL, et al. J Alt Complement Med 15:15-23, 2009.
2. Harari M, et al. Isr Med Assoc J 13:12-15, 2011.
3. Feldman SR, et al. Pediatric Derm 22(6):501-12, 2005.

19 Responses to Sun Therapy for Fibro

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  3. Mindy says:

    wonderful article….especially since i am vitamin D deficient..last time they took my level it was 26…on supplements now of 50,000 units once a week. problem is a few months ago had surgery for basal cell carcinoma just in the crease of my i don’t think being in the sun is what the doctor would want. i’m still being followed and healing i know i can’t do it for awhile at least. It’s hard to cover up your face except with sunblock.

    • Matty says:

      How could any of this be better stated? It couldn’t.

    • Hester says:

      You saved me a lot of haslse just now.

    • Lee Ann says:

      I had my Vitamin D3 tested b y my rheumatologist in the middle of summer while I rode my mower twice a week in the sun, and my level was 14. AND I had been on Vitamin D3 1000units daily. First she put me on the 100,000 units weekly for 9 weeks, then told me to up my vitamin D3 to 2000 iu. I notice I feel better when my D3 is higher.

  4. Patti says:

    So my question is does my 30 minute drive home from work at 3:30pm est in the sun in the front seat of the car count? I sit inside all day and when I get to my car the heat feels so good I leave my windows up and drive my 30 minute drive home that way. Please let me know if this counts because I am extremely deficient of D3 and need all I can get.

    • Ange says:

      Yes, you will still absorb some D3. If you face the sun and sit in it through a window or out side you will re set your body clock, this will also aid a good nights sleep. This is difficult in the dark winter months. But then I use tanning bed. For 5 mins 3 times a week. If you suffer from sad you can buy special light boxes, put one in a room, and it will stop u feeling the winter blues.

  5. Laura Webb says:

    This is important information but alas, sitting in the sun is not always enough. I am outside daily, walking dogs, gardening, relaxing, and still have a severe vitamin d deficiency. I have to take supplements periodically and take blood tests to assess the vitamin d levels. Tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as D, B12, folic acid, and magnesium should be done annually.

  6. Tammy says:

    I’d like to know if using a tanning bed would help????

    • Ange says:

      It helps me. Only 5 mins a go 3 times a week. Be careful though. Some beds and booths are very powerful. But be practiable about your usage small doses three times a week will boost your D3 levels. Don’t for get to use some high quality eye protection. And just be sensible. Take care

  7. Debra Dodd says:

    I was diagnosed as vit.D deficient ! Have a lot of fibro pain and fatigue ! And I love the sun! But lately the heat in Alabama has been triple digits so I can’t get out there now! The heat takes my energy away! Do tanning beds give Vit.D. I wouldnt think so! Thanks for this article and all the articles.

  8. Redcandies says:

    My low levels of vit D is what gave my Dr the Fibromylagia diagnosis for me. I’ve been telling my Husband the only time I feel any relief is when I can lay in the sun for about 20 minutes every few days. It really does help with the pain relief.

  9. Heather says:

    All my life, even before I knew I had fibro I would try and explain to people how being in the sun made me feel like was soaking in a vitamin bath… I could feel how I was soaking up the vitamins I would need for the darker, colder months. It makes me feel so… healthy!

  10. Paula says:

    I am a believer! I have suffered with Fibro for several years and lately I have started using Vitamin D3 supplements but I get out in the sun at least 20 mins a day if possible. I can tell a big difference! Bring on the sun!!

  11. Patti says:

    Im also vitamin D defeciant. But some meds I take say stay out of the sun. Double edged sword!

  12. Ruth Weeks says:

    I have been working for twelve years in an underground building so, of course, thre are no windows. I take 100,000 IU’s of Vitamin D a week just to get me into the low level of what is acceptable. I had been working there for six years before I realized what it is doing to me. There is no one at work who understands what I’m talking about and it’s so obvious to me.

  13. Rosalie says:

    HUH! I guess that’s why I live for spring & summer! I hate the cold dark months! I have taken vitamin D3 also, I feel better, but never knew why! Thanks for the info.!

  14. Ange says:

    Sun is good, even 10 mins a day. Even through a window. I have fibro it is chronic, the sun can re set your body clock. Which will help you sleep, the sun is the only natural form of D3. Ultra violate light is good again in small amounts of time say 5 mins 3 times a week. Tanning beds are very powerful, so extra care is needed. Use a sun screen cream. The higher the factor the longer you expose

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