Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Osteoarthritis Pain
There are about 27 million adult Americans who are suffering from osteoarthritis, based on 2005 US census data, and researchers estimate that the lifetime risk of one developing the condition is close to 46 percent. Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition which involves the joints and is characterized by swelling, stiffness, and pain. It commonly affects the knees, the hips, and the fingers.
A new study shows that black Americans who have low vitamin D levels are especially at risk for experiencing greater pain from osteoarthritis. The findings, which were published recently in Arthritis & Rheumatism, suggest that low vitamin D levels may be one of the various factors that account for increased pain due to this condition.
Deficiency in vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin,” has been shown to be associated with lack of outdoor activities, having dark skin, and increased use of sunscreen products. It is estimated that about 95% of black Americans have low vitamin D levels, compared to just 70% among white Americans.
The study involved 94 osteoarthritis patients who were recruited by researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. They were asked about their symptoms and were asked to undergo testing for sensitivity to heat and mechanical pain on the affected knee and forearm.
The results showed that despite living in a sunny southern region, most of the black American participants (84%) had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to the 51% of white American participants who had low vitamin D in the blood. Furthermore, the black participants displayed greater sensitivity to pain and heat, and this was more pronounced in those who had low vitamin D.
Plans to pursue additional research to test the impact of improving vitamin D status on chronic pain are underway, the authors reveal.
Wiley. Lack of vitamin D contributes to pain in black Americans with knee osteoarthritis. ScienceDaily.