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An excess of widespread pain among South Asians: are low levels of vitamin D implicated?
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  1. G J Macfarlane1,2,
  2. B Palmer1,
  3. D Roy1,
  4. C Afzal1,
  5. A J Silman1,
  6. T O’Neill1
  1. 1Arthritis Research Campaign (arc) Epidemiology Unit, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  2. 2Unit of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor G J Macfarlane
    Aberdeen Pain Research (Epidemiology) Group, Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Polwarth Building Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, Scotland; g.j.macfarlaneabdn.ac.uk

Abstract

Background: Anecdotal reports from rheumatologists in the United Kingdom suggest that patients from South Asian backgrounds are more likely to report widespread body pain.

Objective: To confirm the presence of an excess of widespread pain in South Asians, and to evaluate the relationship of their symptoms with levels of 25-OH vitamin D.

Methods: Two population studies involving over 3135 subjects were carried out in the North West and Midlands areas of England.

Results: The first study confirmed an excess of widespread pain among South Asians (OR = 1.6, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.1). The second smaller study conducted only among young women also showed a similar excess of widespread pain among South Asians (OR = 1.8, 95% CI 0.7 to 4.7) and found that low levels of 25-OH vitamin D (<10 ng/ml) were more common among those with widespread pain (OR = 3.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 31.0).

Conclusions: Owing to the small numbers, the relationship between 25-OH vitamin D and widespread pain must be considered preliminary and requires further investigation. However, it may be one potentially treatable cause of widespread pain.

  • fibromyalgia
  • pain
  • South Asians
  • vitamin D

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