Post-menopause vitamin D deficiency associated with low back pain
Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for lumbar disc degeneration and resulting lower back pain during menopause, according to a new study published in the journal Menopause.
For the study, researchers evaluated vitamin D status in postmenopausal women and its relationship with disc degeneration and lower back pain. It concluded that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in postmenopausal women and that a serum concentration of vitamin D less than 10 ng/mL, indicating severe deficiency, should be considered an indicator of severe disc degeneration and lower back pain. It further identified additional risk factors such as smoking, high body mass index, and osteoporosis for lower back pain beyond vitamin D deficiency.
Lumbar disc degeneration is a common musculoskeletal disease that often causes lower back pain. Previous studies have shown the effect of estrogen on disc degeneration, which partially explains why degeneration is more severe in postmenopausal women than in men of the same age. In addition to lower estrogen concentrations, vitamin D deficiency is common during the post-menopause period.
Vitamin D is critical in maintaining levels of calcium and phosphorus, helping to prevent bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with lower back pain and that supplementation can relieve this pain and improve musculoskeletal strength. But few studies have been conducted regarding the role of vitamin D in spinal degeneration, especially in postmenopausal women.
"This study shows that very low vitamin D levels were linked to a greater likelihood of moderate to severe lower back pain and more severe lumbar disc degeneration, possibly because of the beneficial effects vitamin D has on nerve and muscle pain sensitivity, muscle strength and mass, and inflammation,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, medical director of the North American Menopause Society. “Although not all women need vitamin D supplementation, this speaks to the importance of avoiding severe vitamin D deficiency states.”