Unexplained Pain? Low vitamin D may be the reason, says study

People with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain should be screened regularly for vitamin D deficiency, say researchers at the University of Minnesota. They found that 93% of all subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient. In a study of 150 children and adults, 100% of African-American, East African, Hispanic, and Native American subjects were vitamin D deficient. In addition, all study patients under age 30 were vitamin D deficient. Of these, 55% were severely deficient. Five patients unexpectedly had no vitamin D at all!

“These findings are remarkably different than what is taught is medical school. We would expect vitamin D deficiency in old persons or housebound persons,” says Greg Plotnikoff, MD, lead researcher on the study. “We found the worst vitamin D deficiency in young persons -especially women of childbearing age. We were stunned to find no vitamin D at all in five patients who had been told their pain was ‘all in their head.’ This study supports more routine testing for vitamin D deficiency.”

Plotnikoff says this type of pain is the most common complaint seen by primary care doctors. An unrelated study found that 37% of physician visits are for symptoms of no known cause, most frequently unexplained back, head, arm, and leg pain.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with significant risks for osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. It also is harmful for developing fetuses and causes rickets in children.

University of Minnesota, Dec 8, 2003