Lack of vitamin D may not be associated with lower back pain, study finds

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Scientists have looked into the link between lower back pain and vitamin D. Westend61/Getty Images
  • Lower back pain is considered the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Past studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency to lower back pain.
  • A new study from researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany says there is no correlation between vitamin D deficiency and lower back pain.

Researchers estimate that about Health Organization" rationale="Highly respected international organization">619 million people around the world live with lower back pain.

This condition is also considered to be the leading cause of disability worldwide.

There are a number of reasons why a person may experience lower back pain, including strained or injured muscles, spinal damage, or underlying conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

Depending on the situation, a person’s lower back pain may be treated with a combination of medications, physical therapy, and/or surgery.

Previous research shows between 5%-10% of low back pain becomes chronic low back pain lasting for more than 12 weeks, and 50% of people treated for low back pain have recurring episodes within one year.

Past studies have linked a deficiency in vitamin D to lower back pain as this hormone is essential for healthy bones and regulating inflammation. Plus signs of vitamin D deficiency include pain in the bones, joints, and muscles.

Now, researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany report the opposite to be true — they say there is no correlation between vitamin D deficiency and lower back pain.

The study was recently published in the journal Nutrients.

After reviewing this study, Dr. Medhat Mikhael, a pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, told Medical News Today he was not surprised by its findings.

“Treating patients with chronic or low back pain for a long time, we haven’t really (found) a link to prove that patients on supplemental vitamin D have prevented low back pain,” Dr. Mikhael explained. “We have a lot of patients on vitamin D supplements, but they have chronic low back pain.”

“The case is a little bit different for people that are in their advanced age or they are menopausal and they have (a) higher risk of osteoporosis and compression fracture and then they have a low level of vitamin D,” he continued.

“This is where we ask them to take the supplement to get adequate mineralization of their bone and keep their bone healthy. But low vitamin D or supplemental vitamin D did not prevent the development of low back pain,” he said.

For future research in this area, Dr. Mikhael said he would like to see if people who are premenopausal or have a genetic predisposition for bone loss would be helped if treated with vitamin D early on.

“I (want) to see if these patients (that) have been preemptively or early on treated adequately for any vitamin D deficiency if they can prevent the progress of bone loss and prevent the development of full-blown osteoporosis and become high risk for compression fractures,” he added.

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