An excess of widespread pain among South Asians: are low levels of vitamin D implicated?

Gary John MacFarlane, B. Palmer, D. Roy, C. Afzal, A. J. Silman, T. O'Neill

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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% Cl 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% Cl 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% Cl 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1219
Number of pages2
JournalAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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