Q. About five years ago, I began to suffer severe pain in my left hip and leg. It was agonizing when I lay in bed. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to climb stairs. Physical therapy did not work.
Oddly, CT scans showed no arthritis. Cortisone shots helped a little.
After two years of this disability I discovered that I was deficient in vitamin D. Like many people, I don’t get much sunlight. I began to take enough supplemental vitamin D3 to raise my blood level.
I am now free of that terrible pain and can walk and climb stairs freely! I no longer need painkillers. Vitamin D3 has done wonders for my mood and well-being. I wonder if learning how to combat vitamin D deficiency would help many of your readers as it did for me.
A. Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to muscle and bone pain as well as arthritis (Arthritis and Rheumatism, Feb. 2010). While there are some data to suggest that low levels of vitamin D might play a role in depression, this remains controversial (Nutrition Reviews, Aug. 2009).
Experts continue to argue about the optimal blood levels of vitamin D. We explain how to test your own blood, interpret lab results and choose an appropriate supplement in our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. It does make sense to learn your vitamin D level before self-treating with vitamin D, so you will have some idea of how much you need and how long it might take to bring blood levels to adequacy.
Vitamin D may not be the correct solution for some people, but there are a number of other possible remedies for joint pain. We discuss such simple approaches as tart cherry juice, ginger, fish oil or gin-soaked raisins in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.