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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, McBeth 2010.

Musculoskeletal pain associated with very low levels of vitamin D

McBeth J, Pye SR, O'Neill TW, Macfarlane GJ, Tajar A, Bartfai G, Boonen S, Bouillon R, Casanueva F, Finn JD, Forti G, Giwercman A, Han TS, Huhtaniemi IT, Kula K, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Silman AJ, Vanderschueren D, Wu FC; EMAS Group. Musculoskeletal pain is associated with very low levels of vitamin D in men: results from the European Male Ageing Study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Aug;69(8):1448–52. PubMed #20498201.
Tags: chronic pain, vitamin D, muscle pain, etiology, treatment, self-treatment, nutrition, pain problems, muscle, pro

PainSci summary of this paper?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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This study found a modest but clear link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain. Researchers look 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 abstractAbstracts 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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