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Vitamin D Improves Back Pain in 95% of Patients

  • Reports for practitioners and patients available

Eight out of 10 people will have back pain in their lifetimes. In many cases, such pains are chronic – lasting more than 3 months – and there is no evidence of any injury, disease, or bone problem like a slipped disk. An extensive review of clinical research in a new report from Pain Treatment Topics found that Vitamin D may provide relief to 95% of patients.

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.”

The report, “Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” which was peer-reviewed by a panel of 8 experts, includes the following important points:

  • Vitamin D is essential 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 one study of 360 patients with back pain, all of them were found to have inadequate levels of vitamin D. After taking vitamin D supplements for 3 months, symptoms were improved in 95% of the patients. All of them with the most severe vitamin D deficiencies experienced back-pain relief.
  • The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D – up to 600 IU per day – is outdated and too low.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 (also called cholecalciferol).
  • Vitamin D supplements have a highly favorable safety profile. They interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless extremely high doses – such as 50,000 IU or more – are taken daily for an extended period of time.
  • Vitamin D supplements are easy for patients to self-administer, are well tolerated, and typically cost as little as 12 to 16 cents per day.

The report recommends that all patients should take a multivitamin and multimineral to assure at least minimal daily values of essential nutrients. A basic protocol would include Maximum Vitality multivitamin, Skeletal Calcium™, and supplemental Vitamin D-3.

Besides the comprehensive Research Report (50-pages, 170 references), there is available a shorter Practitioner Briefing (7-pages) that summarizes the report and provides guidance for healthcare providers. Additionally, a special Patient Brochure (6-pages) explains what vitamin D is, how it works, and how it may help in relieving pain.

Vitamin D – A Neglected 'Analgesic' for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

An Evidence-Based Review & Clinical Practice Guidance

Practitioner Briefing...

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

pdf here Download PDF: http://pain-topics.org/pdf/vitamind-briefing.pdf (260 KB, 7-pages)

This special 7-page briefing for healthcare providers summarizes key background information and practice recommendations from the full report (see below). The vitamin D “endocrine system” is described, along with its relationship to chronic pain syndromes.

The briefing describes how to put vitamin D supplementation for chronic pain syndromes into clinical practice, including a proposed dosing protocol. In the final analysis, supplemental vitamin D has a favorable benefit to cost ratio with minimal, if any, risks. It should be considered early in the course of treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes.

Patient Brochure…

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

pdf here Download PDF: http://pain-topics.org/pdf/vitamind-brochure.pdf (200 KB, 6-pages)

This 6-page brochure for patients and/or their caregivers explains in easy-to-understand language what vitamin D is and how it works. In a question-and-answer format it describes how inadequate vitamin D intake may play a role in muscle, bone, or joint pain, as well as the potential benefits and what to expect from vitamin D supplementation. Patients are advised that they should not discontinue other prescribed therapies for pain and to consult their healthcare providers when starting a vitamin D supplementation program.

In conclusion, Leavitt stresses that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all back pain and in all patients. Because vitamin D-3 therapy takes time to effectively raise 25(OH)D concentrations, lower PTH levels and/or saturate vitamin D receptors with the 1,25(OH)D metabolite, 3 to 9 months is necessary for full effect.


Full Report...

By: Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, Pain Treatment Topics, June 2008.

pdf here Download PDF: http://pain-topics.org/pdf/vitamind-report.pdf (770 KB, 50-pages)

This 50-page, peer-reviewed report provides an extensive discussion of vitamin D and its application for chronic pain syndromes. It is based on a comprehensive review of the literature, and 170 reference citations are included.

The full report is intended to provide a complete understanding and clinical recommendations regarding vitamin D for medical staff, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. It responds to questions practitioners may have regarding why, when, how, and for whom to recommend vitamin D supplementation.

Pain Treatment Topics and the associated Pain-Topics.org website provide open and free access to noncommercial, evidence-based clinical news, information, research, and education on the causes and effective treatment of the many types of pain conditions. It is independently produced and currently supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Covidien/Mallinckrodt Inc., St. Louis, MO, a leading manufacturer of generic opioid analgesic products. NOTICE: Neither the author nor the sponsor has any vested interests in the nutritional supplement field.

Key concepts: Vitamin D, back pain, analgesic, pain relief