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Study probes benefits of Vitamin D for treating chronic pain

Some patients with chronic pain could be better served by being prescribed vitamin D supplements by their health-care provider, according to research at the University of Adelaide in Australia.


December 8, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff

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Researchers in the university’s School of Population Health have been
studying the treatment of patients with chronic non-specific
musculoskeletal pain, and they have found it can vary widely.

"The
patients in this group are experiencing chronic pain and it is a very
common condition. So we wanted to know how general practitioners were
responding to these patients and whether we could make recommendations
that might help the GPs in their work," says PhD student and medical
doctor Manasi Gaikwad.

"Vitamin D supplements are known to help
ease the symptoms of people with this type of chronic pain, and there
are no known negative side-effects. Vitamin D supplementation is readily
available and a relatively cheap option.

"We found that the GPs
we studied have observed positive effect of vitamin D supplementation on
these patients. However, this can be a slow process, involving repeat
visits to the GP, and additional costs such as blood tests.

"There are no guidelines for prescribing vitamin D to this group of patients," Gaikwad said.

Despite
the prevalence of this condition in the community, the diagnosis and
treatment of patients with chronic non-specific musculoskeletal pain
remains complicated.

"Several studies have been conducted showing
that patients with chronic non-specific musculoskeletal pain can
receive relief after increasing vitamin D intake. But until now there
has been no study to understand the clinical reasoning GPs use to decide
which patients should or should not receive vitamin D supplementation,"
she said.

"The research has highlighted that a standardised approach to treatment could be beneficial for both the GPs and patients."

Gaikwad
said there is strong support among doctors for these patients to
receive vitamin D, but they also encourage more sun exposure, and not
just taking supplements.

"This is an issue because many people
are working indoors, out of the sun, and spending much of their
non-working hours indoors also. A little bit of sun is healthy, and GPs
are encouraging their patients to go outside a bit more each day," she
said.


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