A Single Shot of Vitamin D May Help Improve Diabetic Nerve Pain
What to Know
About half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage, which can cause shooting and burning pain in the feet and hands. Such nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, occurs more commonly in people who have had diabetes for a number of years. People with diabetes often don’t get enough vitamin D, so researchers set out to investigate a link between vitamin D and diabetic neuropathy. Could vitamin D help reduce the pain caused by diabetic nerve damage?
A total of 143 people ages 18 to 80, most with type 2 diabetes and some with type 1, participated in the study. It was conducted in Karachi, Pakistan. At the start of the study, participants received an injection of vitamin D. Over the next 20 weeks, they returned for 4 more visits to complete pain surveys and to have their blood glucose, cholesterol, and other health markers evaluated.
Halfway through the study, the participants reported feeling significantly less nerve pain than at the start. An added bonus: By the end of the study, their A1C (a measurement of blood glucose levels over time) had improved, and their HDL (good) cholesterol levels had increased.
A single injection of vitamin D appears to be a safe and effective means of reducing pain caused by diabetic nerve damage. It requires about 10 weeks to take effect and lasts up to 20 weeks. However, the results need to be confirmed by studies to compare people who receive vitamin D injections with a similar group of people who receive a placebo (such as an injection which appears similar to the treatment being studied but which has no active ingredients).
Vitamin D for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy, by Abdul Basit and colleagues. BMJ Open Diab Res Care 2016;4:1 e000148.