MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (Dec. 8, 2003) — People with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain should be screened regularly for vitamin D deficiency, the leading study in the December 9, 2003 Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports. Research conducted at the University of Minnesota found that 93 percent of all subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient.
A study of 150 children and adults at the University of Minnesota found that 100 percent 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 percent 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, M.D., M.T.S., professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing and 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.
“This pain is the most common type of complaint seen by primary care doctors. Patients with this type of pain should be tested for vitamin D deficiency,” says Plotnikoff. 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.
According to the Nov. 12, 2003 edition of the pain management issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, unsuccessfully treated pain costs $61.2 billion per year.
An unrelated study in the December issue of Psychosomatics found that 37 percent of physician visits are for symptoms of no known cause, most frequently unexplained back, head, arm, and leg pain. A trial to assess management of persistent, non-specific pain by prescription of vitamin D replenishment is recommended by Plotnikoff.