Vitamin D Supplements Can’t Help Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is an extremely common age-related degenerative disease of the knees. Knee OA can cause significant discomfort as well as high societal costs including early retirement, work loss and surgeries to repair damage to the knee joint. Despite this, there are no medical treatments that have been proven to have an impact on the progression of the disease.

As some studies suggested that vitamin D may be able to counter the effects of knee OA, it was hoped that increased levels of the vitamin in the body might slow the progression of the disease. Unfortunately, however, research published in JAMA medical journal suggests that vitamin D supplements were ineffective in either reducing knee pain or slowing cartilage loss.

A two-year randomised trial took place in which 146 patients with symptomatic knee OA were put into two groups. The first group was given a vitamin D supplement called cholecalciferol. The second group were placed on a placebo. The primary measure outcomes were the severity of the knee pain which was measured on a scale of 0 to 20 (0 being no pain, 20 being extreme pain) and cartilage thickness.

At the beginning of the trial the treatment group had an average pain level of 6.9, while the placebo had an average of 5.8. The researchers found that knee pain decreased in both trials, with the treatment group decreasing pain at an average of -2.31 and the placebo group decreasing at -1.46. The cartilage volume decreased at almost an identical rate of around 4 percent.

While there was a marginally higher decrease in pain for the treatment, the researchers concluded that a clinical regular dose of vitamin D does not make a significant difference to the overall wellbeing of a knee OA patient. While this doesn’t mean that vitamin D can never have any effect on knee OA, it seems that the right way has yet to have been found.

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