Friday, March 29, 2013

Does Vitamin “D” Stand for “Dud” When It Comes to Knee Pain?

In case you haven’t noticed, vitamin D has become the “in” vitamin over the last four or five years. I’m not sure I'd be surprised if a study claimed that takers of a vitamin D supplement sprouted wings and learned to fly. It seems that good. (Full disclosure: I take a vitamin D pill daily.)

But for knee pain, don’t get your hopes up.

This recent study showed that taking vitamin D supplements did not (1) slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis or (2) reduce the associated discomfort. And, for knee pain, those are really the only two things that matter.

146 patients, who were 45 or older and who had symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, participated in the trial. Half received a strong dose of vitamin D (2,000 IU each day); the others got a placebo.

At the end of the two-year study, 61.3 percent of the supplement takers had the desirable level of vitamin D in their blood of 36 ng/ml or higher. That compared with 8.3 percent of those who took the placebo. Yet there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of pain or cartilage loss.

Earlier studies had suggested that higher levels of vitamin D in your blood might somehow play a part in slowing the progression of arthritis. But alas, it appears not to be so.

Now for my take: Pills are easy. Surgery is relatively easy too (you put your faith in someone else to make you whole again). It doesn’t surprise me that the “easy” stuff to fix chronic knee pain usually doesn’t work. That feels right to me, like cosmic karma.

What’s hard is slowly and diligently and patiently rehabbing your knees. It’s not hard like pushing a boulder up a mountain is hard. It’s hard because it requires you to be completely engaged in the process of healing, every day.

Someday, maybe someone will find a magic pill that will allow you to effortlessly banish knee pain. But I wouldn’t count on it.


  1. What about kinesiology? I've now had someone tell me that is the answer to my PFS? Have you looked into that?


  2. I love this part. "it's not hard like pushing a boulder up a hill. It's hard because it requires you to be completely involved in the healing process everyday."

    The only thing I would add is ".... completely involved in the healing process....Day after day after day after day for weeks and weeks and months and months and maybe even years and years."

  3. What is kinesiology? I will google that and learn more!


  4. Hello Richard!

    My name is Jennifer. My father has the same terrible knee problems
    that you used to suffer with. He is a fanatical cyclist and would not give
    this up for anything. However I really hate to see him in so much pain with
    his knees and it is constant.

    My mum tries to get him to see docters but be blatently refuses, saying
    they don't knot what they are doing - much the saem as your own views so I
    hear! He told me about finding information about your book online and was
    really very excited! He has a kindle but we have not been able to download
    it onto this or onto the PC, having tried many many times to do so.

    So I desided to e-mail you to see if you could help! Would you be able to
    send him a printed copy of your book if I pay you the cost of this ? Any
    help you have woudl be much appreciated!

    Thank you very much for your time,

    - daughter of a very stubborn dad! :)

    1. Hi Jennifer, and sorry to hear of your father's problems. First, to clear up one thing: I'm not anti-doctor; in fact, I think the best place to start with a bad knee is with a doctor's visit (and no book or blog is a good substitute for that). However, I did come to the conclusion, based on my own experience getting better and on copious reading, that the current thinking on how to treat chronic knee pain is deeply flawed. Hence the book (and this blog).

      On getting a copy of the book: I'm sorry, but it's not available in print, at least right now (printing just a few copies would be very expensive, though I might look into doing a print run in the future, if it was large enough to be worthwhile).

      But on the Kindle download: Have you tried Amazon customer support? They are really good; I've been quite impressed with them. Also: You can download the "Kindle for PC" application and read the book on a computer. Or: It's also available through Smashwords (if you've got a Nook for example that works better than your Kindle). Lastly: There is no magic secret in the book and my thinking is spread all over this blog, so your father could just spend time going over the posts here. The main benefit of the book is it tells the story in a more linear, coherent fashion ... but it's not like there's some "secret sauce" on page 96 that I won't reveal on the blog. ;)