A new study has suggested that vitamin D may offer relief from chronic back pain.
According to Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, editor of Pain Treatment Topics and author of the report, "our examination of the research, which included 22 clinical investigations of patients with pain, found that those with chronic back pain almost always had inadequate levels of vitamin D. When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, their pain either vanished or was at least helped to a significant extent."
Vitamin D is an important component for calcium absorption and bone health.
Inadequate vitamin D intake can result in a softening of bone surfaces, or osteomalacia, that causes pain. The lower back seems to be particularly vulnerable to this effect.
In a study of 360 patients with back pain, the researchers found that all the patients had inadequate levels of vitamin D.
However, after taking vitamin D supplements for 3 months, 95 pct patients showed improvement in back pain symptoms.
The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D - up to 600 IU per day - is outdated and too low. According to the research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with chronic back pain would benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3.
Vitamin D supplements interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless extremely high doses are taken. An extra dose of the vitamin D may provide relief from pain.
Leavitt said that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all back pain and in all patients. It also is not necessarily a replacement for other pain treatments.
"While further research would be helpful. Current best evidence indicates that recommending supplemental vitamin D for patients with chronic back pain would do no harm and could do much good at little cost," he said.