Expert Blog

Can Vitamin C help you prepare for surgery?

Vitamin CFor some, it’s not the idea of undergoing surgery that’s nerve-wracking, but what can happen after it. Undergoing surgery is without consequence for many people, however, others may develop chronic pain – and in some cases, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, but it’s often associated with a traumatic injury; it can also be an unfortunate surgical side-effect. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is often characterized by intense pain at the site of the injury, which can spread throughout the limb or body part over time. So is there any way to prevent this painful side-effect?

What kind of research was done?

In February 2016, a literature review was done. The goal was to understand whether patients taking Vitamin C supplements just before a surgery could help prevent postoperative pain* and the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. 

What were the results?

The review ended up including the results from 17 studies; seven that looked at postoperative pain and six that looked at the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The studies looking at the effects of Vitamin C in preventing postoperative pain showed mixed results. However, the studies looking at the potential for Vitamin C to prevent the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome showed some potential. 

The bottom line

  • There’s evidence supporting the use of Vitamin C, just before a surgery, to help prevent the onset of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. 
  • More research is needed to better understand the effectiveness and necessary dosage of Vitamin C to prevent this neuropathic condition.


Chen S, Roffey DM, Dion CA, Arab A, Wai EK. Effect of Perioperative Vitamin C Supplementation on Postoperative Pain and the Incidence of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clin J Pain. 2016 Feb;32(2):179-85. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000218.

* Postoperative pain refers to pain resulting from a surgical procedure, which can include both nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.