Vitamin D No Magic Bullet for Osteoarthritis11/08/10
SUNDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from
osteoarthritis of the knee appear to receive no relief from taking
vitamin D supplements, U.S. researchers report.
"I've never heard of vitamin D as an intervention strategy," said Dr. Kevin Dalal, an assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "I am not surprised it didn't work. It's a tough process to try to change after it's been going on for years."
He noted that 25 million Americans suffer from
"The joints that bear the weight take the brunt of the disease. The joint space starts narrowing, bone spurs develop and the joint becomes very uncomfortable," explained Dalal, who was not involved in the study.
He said the theory behind why vitamin D might work is its
ability to increase the absorption of calcium, which might
strengthen the knee joint.
The findings were to be presented Sunday at the American College
of Rheumatology's annual meeting in Atlanta.
To see if vitamin D might have a beneficial effect, a team led
by Dr. Timothy McAlindon, an associate professor of medicine in the
division of rheumatology at Tufts New England Medical Center,
studied 146 people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
The participants were randomly assigned to take vitamin D or
placebo. Those taking vitamin D group started taking 2,000
International Units (IU) daily.
Over the course of the study, doses of vitamin D were increased
in 2,000 IU increments to maintain a blood level of the vitamin at
more than 30 nanograms per milliliter, the researchers noted.
In addition, McAlindon's team gave the participants physical
function tests and X-rayed the affected knee at the start of the
study and one year later. They also had the participants undergo an
MRI at the start and at the end of the study.
These data helped the researchers keep track of knee cartilage
volume and thickness, along with bone marrow lesion volume, to see
if there were any changes over time.
After two years, there were no substantial differences between
those people taking vitamin D and those taking placebo, the
"This study tested whether vitamin D supplementation, given over a two-year period, could influence the rate of progression of joint damage in people with knee osteoarthritis," McAlindon said in a statement. "The study found no difference compared to a placebo treatment."
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease affecting
middle-age and older people. The condition causes progressive
damage to the joint cartilage and causes changes in the structures
around the joint, the researchers said.
These changes can include accumulation of fluid, bony
overgrowth, and loosening and weakness of muscles and tendons, all
of which can limit movement and cause pain and swelling.
Dalal noted that the only treatment for osteoarthritis is
physical therapy, exercise and anti-inflammatory medication.
Eventually, many people suffering from knee osteoarthritis will
need a joint replacement, he said.
Research suggests that other treatments such as glucosamine and
other herbal remedies also don't work, Dalal said. "But some people
are desperate and try alternatives," he said.
For more information on osteoarthritis, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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