Widely Used Supplements Fail to Relieve Women’s Joint Pain

female_joint_pain_medications_not_effectiveWhile some studies have suggested that low vitamin D and calcium levels may cause joint pain and swelling in postmenopausal women, in a recent randomized clinical trial, researchers found that vitamin D and calcium supplements are no better than a placebo at relieving joint symptoms.

Researchers studied 1,911 women, half of whom were taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 units of vitamin D daily, the other half taking a placebo, The New York Times reports. The two groups had similar rates of joint pain and joint swelling—about 73 percent and 34 percent, respectively—and similar rates of smoking, physical activity, body mass index, and other health factors. The study results were published online August 19 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

After two years on their regimens, 74.6 percent of the supplement group had joint pain, as did 75.1 percent of the placebo group, according to the Times. The numbers for joint swelling were similarly close: 34.6 percent of those who took supplements reported swelling, as did 32.4 percent of those who took the placebo. These are statistically insignificant differences, the Times explains.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, was not optimistic about finding something that might alleviate postmenopausal women’s joint symptoms. “We’re wearing down over time, and there’s not much to be done about it,” he said. He recommends over the counter pain relievers, according to the Times.

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