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Musculoskeletal pain associated with very low levels of vitamin D

PainSci » bibliography » McBeth et al 2010
Tags: chronic pain, muscle pain, etiology, treatment, self-treatment, nutrition, vitamin D, pain problems, muscle, pro

Two articles on PainSci cite McBeth 2010: 1. The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain2. Vitamin D for Pain

PainSci commentary on McBeth 2010: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This study found a modest but clear link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain. Researchers looked at 3000 older men. About 250 (8%) of them were suffering from chronic, widespread pain, and they had at least a 20% greater chance of having low vitamin D, less than 15ng/ml — the low end of “enough” Vitamin D. A weaker connection was also found in men with less pain. As with all studies like this, all it can tell us is that there is a connection, not what kind of connection: D deficiency might cause pain, or it might just be another side effect of the real causes of pain. Nevertheless, this is one of the best studies of its kind ever done, and the authors concluded: “These findings have implications at a population level for the long-term health of individuals with musculoskeletal pain.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

INTRODUCTION: A study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that musculoskeletal pain is associated with low vitamin D levels but the relationship is explained by physical inactivity and/or other putative confounding factors.

METHODS: Men aged 40-79 years completed a postal questionnaire including a pain assessment and attended a clinical assessment (lifestyle questionnaire, physical performance tests, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-(OH)D) levels from fasting blood sample). Subjects were classified according to 25-(OH)D levels as 'normal' (> or = 15 ng/ml) or 'low' (< 15 ng/ml). The relationship between pain status and 25-(OH)D levels was assessed using logistic regression. Results are expressed as ORs and 95% CIs.

RESULTS: 3075 men of mean (SD) age 60 (11) years were included in the analysis. 1262 (41.0%) subjects were pain-free, 1550 (50.4%) reported 'other pain' that did not satisfy criteria for chronic widespread pain (CWP) and 263 (8.6%) reported CWP. Compared with patients who were pain-free, those with 'other pain' and CWP had lower 25-(OH)D levels (n=239 (18.9%), n=361 (23.3) and n=67 (24.1%), respectively, p<0.05). After adjusting for age, having 'other pain' was associated with a 30% increase in the odds of having low 25-(OH)D while CWP was associated with a 50% increase. These relationships persisted after adjusting for physical activity levels. Adjusting for additional lifestyle factors (body mass index, smoking and alcohol use) and depression attenuated these relationships, although pain remained moderately associated with increased odds of 20% of having low vitamin D levels.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings have implications at a population level for the long-term health of individuals with musculoskeletal pain.

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