Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: November 2013 - Volume 471 - Issue 11 - p 3556–3562 doi: 10.1007/s11999-013-3201-6 Clinical Research

Does Vitamin D Improve Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

Sanghi, Divya, PhD1; Mishra, Abhishek, MSc1; Sharma, Amar, Chandra, MSc1; Singh, Ajai, MS1; Natu, S., M., PhD2; Agarwal, Sarita, PhD3; Srivastava, Rajeshwar, Nath, MS1, a

Background Animal, epidemiologic, and human clinical studies suggest a putative role for vitamin D in osteoarthritis (OA). Inadequate sunlight exposure and lower serum levels of 25(OH)D appear in some reports to be associated with an increased risk for progression of knee OA.


Questions/purposes We asked whether treatment with vitamin D would (1) reduce knee pain (WOMAC and VAS), (2) improve function (WOMAC), and (3) change levels of relevant biochemical markers in patients with knee OA with vitamin D insufficiency.


Methods This randomized controlled pilot trial prospectively enrolled 107 patients with knee OA with vitamin D insufficiency (25(OH)D ≤ 50 nmol/L) to receive oral vitamin D or placebo. The primary outcome measures were pain and function, and the secondary were biochemical markers. At baseline, the two groups were comparable. The patients were followed for 1 year.


Results At 12 months, knee pain had decreased in the vitamin D group by mean −0.26 (95% CI, −2.82 to −1.43) on VAS and −0.55 (95% CI, −0.07 to 1.02) on the WOMAC, whereas in the placebo group, it increased by mean 0.13 (95% CI, −0.03 to 0.29) on the VAS and 1.16 (95% CI, 0.82 to 1.49) on the WOMAC (effect size = 0.37 and 0.78). Likewise knee function improved in the vitamin D group by mean −1.36 (95% CI, −1.87 to −0.85) over the placebo group which had a mean 0.69 (95% CI, −0.03 to 1.41; effect size = 0.06). There were significant biochemical changes in serum total calcium, 25(OH)D and alkaline phosphatase.


Conclusions The results above suggest there is a small but statistically significant clinical benefit to vitamin D treatment in patients with knee OA, although we recommend a long-term study to determine whether these changes are clinically important and whether they will be sustained with time. Further studies with long-term radiologic evaluations are needed.


Level of Evidence Level I, therapeutic study. See the Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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