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Study finds link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic low back pain

Posted on: May 22, 2015   by  Missy Sturges & John Canell, MD


A recent study conducted by the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry found low vitamin D levels were strongly associated with patients with chronic back pain of unknown etiology.

Chronic low back pain is a leading cause of disability, often resulting in a reduced quality of life. Up to 80% of individuals who suffer from back pain are unable to identify the cause, making it difficult to treat their pain.

Researchers started to question whether vitamin D levels relate to back pain due to the role that vitamin D plays in bone health. Several studies have evaluated the relationship; however, much of these findings were conflicting.

A recent study aimed to provide insight on vitamin D’s role in chronic low back pain in India, where sun exposure is plentiful but cultural trends often result in insufficient vitamin D levels. They recruited a total of 200 patients with low back pain and compared them to 200 healthy controls.

All participants in the study had their serum vitamin D, C-reactive protein (CRP) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) factors measured. CRP is an indicator of general inflammation in the body. RA factors refer to an antibody level that rises with immune mediated arthritis.

Researchers found that patients with chronic low back pain had significantly diminished vitamin D levels when compared with healthy controls (p < 0.0001). Half of the patients with low back pain were vitamin D deficient. CRP and RA levels tended to be elevated in cases when compared to controls.

The researchers concluded:

“Our findings provide a plausible explanation as well as justification for advocating dietary supplementation as well as therapeutic medication to achieve euvitaminosis D in musculoskeletal pain patients.”


Moushumi, L., et. al.  Assessment of Vitamin D status In Patients of Chronic Low Back Pain of Unknown Etiology. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2015


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