Many women in postmenopause report a high incidence of lower back pain, and according to a new study, a vitamin D deficiency may be to blame. According to the research published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), women who have low vitamin D levels could be experiencing a greater likelihood of moderate to severe lower back pain and more severe lumbar disc degeneration.
Lumbar disc degeneration can become a greater risk with age, which studies show disproportionately affects women more than men. This new study demonstrates that vitamin D deficiency, smoking, high body mass index (BMI), and osteoporosis are all risk factors that affect lumbar disc degeneration and back pain associated with the condition.
Previous research on lumbar disc degeneration has shown that this common musculoskeletal disease can be affected by estrogen, which partially explains why degeneration is more severe in women experiencing menopause than in men of the same age. In addition to lower estrogen concentrations, vitamin D deficiency is common during the postmenopausal period.
Vitamin D Deficiency in Postmenopausal Women
For the study, researchers evaluated vitamin D status in postmenopausal women and its relationship with disc degeneration and lower back pain. It was found 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. The study also recognized additional risk factors such as high BMI, smoking, and osteoporosis for lower back pain.
Study results appeared in the article “Does vitamin D status influence lumbar disc degeneration and low back pain in postmenopausal women? A retrospective, single-center study.”
“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. Although not all women need vitamin D supplementation, this speaks to the importance of avoiding severe vitamin D deficiency states,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.
The role of vitamin D in the body is important because it is critical in maintaining levels of calcium and phosphorus, which can help to prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets. Previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with lower back pain and that supplementation can help to relieve pain and improve musculoskeletal strength. However, few studies have been conducted to find the relationship between the role of vitamin D in spinal degeneration and postmenopausal women.
This research helps to understand this relationship and will open the discussion for more research on the importance of vitamin D in postmenopausal women. With lower back pain being a common concern for women, this research can help physicians with treatment and early detection of lumbar disc degeneration.