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Low vitamin D levels associated with increased pain in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome

Posted on: June 29, 2017   by  Riley Peterson & John Cannell, MD.


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful neuropathy disorder which occurs due to compression of nerves travelling through the wrist. Individuals with this condition experience pain, numbness and loss of strength in the wrists and hands. These symptoms can lead to significant decline in quality of life.

The most common cause of CTS is an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes mellitus, impaired thyroid function and rheumatoid arthritis. Some risk factors include obesity, pregnancy and frequent wrist activity, such as using a keyboard and typing.

Previous research has connected vitamin D to diabetic neuropathy. Furthermore, studies have shown vitamin D helps treat or mediate pain in conditions including osteoarthritis, chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia. Researchers from this study aimed to investigate the relationship between vitamin D and pain severity in patients with mild CTS.

A total of 76 individuals between the ages of 18 and 45 were included in the study. About half of the participants were diagnosed with mild CTS, while the remaining half did not have CTS. The researchers measured the patients’ vitamin D levels and pain using serum 25(OH)D draws and the visual analog scale (VAS), a tool used to measure the intensity and frequency and symptoms, respectively. The researchers also wanted to compare vitamin D levels to the severity of CTS; therefore, they assessed the severity with an electromyograph (EMG). Based on their EMG tests, participants were either placed into a no CTS or mild CTS group.

This is what the researchers found:

  • Vitamin D levels were significantly lower in patients with CTS (p=0.003).
  • There was no correlation between pain and vitamin D in the no CTS group, but there was a significant association between low vitamin D levels (<20 ng/ml) and pain in the mild CTS group (p=0.002).

Below is a table which shows the distribution of vitamin D levels in correlation with VAS scores in healthy and CTS individuals:

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 1.23.18 PM

The researchers concluded that lower vitamin D levels may increase the severity of pain in patients with CTS.  While the findings were significant, the study was limited by its observational design and small study population. In addition, the researchers acknowledged that the lack of a vitamin D intervention makes it impossible to determine if vitamin D supplementation may affect pain severity in CTS patients. The researchers called for larger-scale, interventional studies to explore the effect of vitamin D replacement in patients with CTS.


Peterson, R. & Cannell, JJ. Low vitamin D levels associated with increased pain in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, 2017.


Demiryurek BE, Gundogdu AA, The Effect of Vitamin D Levels on Pain In Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Orthopaedics and Traumatology: Surgery and Research (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.otsr.2017.05.003

4 Responses to Low vitamin D levels associated with increased pain in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome

  1. [email protected]

    One illness that is strongly related to CTS is fibromyalgia. In some samples upto 50% of FM sufferers have CTS.. It may be that CPS (pressure on the median nerve) is exaggerated in FM and the pain hypersensitivity amplifies the pain further.

    see also:
    The Egyptian Rheumatologist
    Volume 35, Issue 3, July 2013, Pages 175-179

    • Riley Peterson

      That sounds very interesting, and it certainly makes sense. I will definitely be looking in to the mechanisms suggested that connect CTS and fibromyalgia.

  2. Annette

    Ten years ago I was in the process of testing prior to undergoing surgery for carpal tunnel after trying various treatments over the preceding two years. My full-time job required a lot of computer work, and I was a massage therapist in my spare time. At the same time, my General Practitioner diagnosed me with very low vitamin D. I commenced 3,000 iu a day. Very quickly I noticed a decrease in the pain of my CT. I had tried many treatments before considering the surgery which was to be a last resort.

    Thanks to an astute GP I have never required surgery! In addition, The low D diagnosis sent me off researching vitamin D and it was then I discovered the Vitamin D Council. What a wonderful discovery it was!!!

    I very occasionally get some mild tingling in my fingers, but never any pain. Don’t wear a wrist brace, am now a Bowen Therapist exclusively so use my hands a lot!

    I now take 5,000 or 10,000 iu daily depending on how much sun exposure I get. I also ensure I supplement with lots of magnesium, 180 mcg vitamin K2 MK7, and also take a multi that contains boron, vitamin A and zinc to ensure I am getting the vitally important co-factors.

    If you have CT it is worth upping your vitamin D

    • Riley Peterson

      What a wonderful thing to hear, Annette! I am so happy to know that vitamin D is positively impacting our member’s lives. Thank you for sharing!

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