Low vitamin D levels may cause greater knee pain and difficulty walking in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to research presented last week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, Mass.

In a two-year trial of vitamin D supplements on knee osteoarthritis progression, researchers tested whether vitamin D deficiency at study entry is associated with pain and physical function in OA patients. Researchers studied 65 women and 35 men in their sixties who showed signs of having knee OA by measuring blood levels of vitamin D, their baseline knee pain, the time needed for arising several times from a chair, and the time needed to walk 20 meters.

Of the 100 participants, 47% were vitamin D deficient, with levels below 30 ng/ml. This deficiency contributed to increased pain and difficulty walking among the participants. However, the deficiency did not affect time need to stand and sit repeatedly.

“These preliminary results suggest that, among people with knee osteoarthritis, having a low vitamin D level is associated with more knee pan and greater functional limitation,” comments Tim McAlindon, MD, MPH an investigator in the study.

American College of Rheumatology – November 14, 2007.     www.rheumatology.org

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