Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 316–321 | Cite as

Vitamin D supplementation has no major effect on pain or pain behavior in bedridden geriatric patients with advanced dementia

  • Mikko Björkman
  • Antti Sorva
  • Reijo Tilvis
Original Article


Background and aims: In a few, earlier, uncontrolled trials, alleviation of chronic pain has been documented by vitamin D supplementation. This randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial addressed the association between pain and vitamin D deficiency and the effects of vitamin D supplementation on pain in institutionalized aged patients. Methods: 216 long-term care patients were enrolled in Helsinki, Finland. Pain was assessed by three tools: Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI), Discomfort Behavior Scale, and Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia Scale. Scores for Cognitive Performance Scale (CPS) and other clinical assessments were also collected from the RAI-database. Levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and parathyroid hormone were also determined. Patients in pain (n=202) were randomized into three treatment groups, each receiving 0, 400, or 1200 IU cholecalciferol per day, respectively. Assessments were repeated after six-month vitamin D supplementation. Results: Patients were aged (84.5±7.5 yrs), demented (CPS= 4.9±1.4, range 1–6), and chronically bedridden. Pain was present in 38.4% to 83.8% of patients depending on assessment tool. Low 25-OHD levels (<50 nmol/L) were very common (98.1%). However, vitamin D deficiency was not associated with pain or pain behavior. The supplementation resulted in a marked increase in 25-OHD levels. However, neither prevalence of painlessness nor pain scores changed significantly after vitamin D supplementation. Conclusions: We were not able either to show an association between vitamin D deficiency and pain or to observe alleviation of pain by vitamin D supplementation. The independent role of vitamin D in the etiology of pain remains controversial.

Key words

Aged patients dementia vitamin D pain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Internal Publishing Switzerland 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinics of Internal Medicine and GeriatricsHelsinki University Central HospitalHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Long-Term Care,Helsinki Health CenterLaakso HospitalHelsinkiFinland

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