Researchers are conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of vitamin D in treatment of lower back disc herniation.
A herniated disc refers to a tear in the rubbery cushion, or disk, which is located in-between the vertebrae that make up your spine. The tear causes the soft, central portion of the disk to leak out, which can cause irritation to nearby nerves.
Herniated discs are most commonly found in the lumbar region of the spine, or the lower back.
Severe pain not caused by irritated nerves may still occur through the release of inflammatory chemicals. Treatments can be expensive and may require surgery or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, depending on the severity of the herniation.
Vitamin D is cheap and many believe it has the potential to be a powerful cost-effective therapy that is easy to administer.
For this reason, researchers are currently in the midst of conducting a randomized controlled trial to see if vitamin D could be a cost-effective therapy in those with herniated lumbar discs.
The study will include 380 patients with herniated lumbar discs. The participants will be divided into three groups based on their vitamin D status, and each group will be randomly assigned to receive a single 300,000 IU intramuscular dose of vitamin D or given a placebo.
Pain will be assessed before and after the treatment with a questionnaire and the use of a visual analog scale. A visual analog scale is used to measure subjective characteristics, such as pain.
The participants will be shown a line between two points. The first point indicates no pain and the second point indicates the most pain bearable. They will express the severity of their pain by a position on the line.
The questionnaire will be given every three days by telephone over the course of the 15 day trial. At the end of the trial, the patients will have their vitamin D levels tested again.
The study may show if there is a causal link between vitamin D treatment and decreased pain due to its randomized, placebo-controlled design.