Ferdinand Schreuder, MD1⇓, Roos M. D. Bernsen, PhD2 and Johannes C. van der Wouden, PhD1
1Department of General Practice, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Community Medicine, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR Ferdinand Schreuder, MD Handellaan 108-D 2625 SN Delft The Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org
PURPOSE Many non-Western immigrants report musculoskeletal pains that are hard to treat. We studied the effect of high-dose vitamin D3 on nonspecific persistent musculoskeletal complaints in vitamin D–deficient non-Western immigrants and assessed correlation of pain patterns with benefit.
METHODS We conducted a semi-crossover randomized controlled trial between February 2008 and February 2010 in primary care in 84 non-Western immigrants visiting their general practitioner for nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. At baseline, patients were randomized to placebo or vitamin D (150,000 IU vitamin D3 orally); at week 6, patients in the original vitamin D group were randomized a second time to receive vitamin D (again) or to switch to placebo, whereas patients in the original placebo group were all switched to vitamin D. The main outcome was self-assessed change in pain after the first 6 weeks.
RESULTS Patients in the vitamin D group were significantly more likely than their counterparts in the placebo group to report pain relief 6 weeks after treatment (34.9% vs 19.5%, P = .04). The former were also more likely to report an improved ability to walk stairs (21.0% vs 8.4%, P = .008). Pain pattern was not correlated with the success of treatment. In a nonsignificant trend, patients receiving vitamin D over 12 weeks were more likely to have an improvement than patients receiving it over 6 weeks.
CONCLUSIONS There is a small positive effect 6 weeks after high-dose vitamin D3 on persistent nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. Future research should focus on longer follow-up, higher supplementation doses, and mental health.