I humbly submit an anecdotal ten year report about the health of my knee. It has led me to wonder whether my own Vitamin D deficiency caused knee bursitis.1
In my late forties I took up running and enjoyed it. I ran a modest 20 minute loop around the neighborhood several times a week. I maintained that modest regimen, seeking the promise of a healthy heart and an overall sense of well being.
Alas, after just three months, I noticed a dull ache in my knees. I took that as a warning and stopped running. I wanted to avoid the debility that former runners faced after they ignored joint pain.
A few years later, in the Spring, I experienced a unique onset of right knee pain, enough to cause me to limp. My doctor diagnosed bursitis. He prescribed the anti-inflammatory, Vioxx.2 He gave me a series of four static exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Gradually, the pain subsided.
In subsequent years, the doctor treated my knee bursitis again, using Advil rather than Vioxx, since the latter had been pulled off the pharmacy shelf.3 I continued the static knee exercises. Both treatments were effective as long as the course of anti-inflamatory medicine was sufficient.
In the last fours years I took up the lower impact sport of bicycle riding. I commute four times a week totalling twenty miles. I kept an eye on my times.
Two months ago I had a routine physical and blood tests. The doctor found a significant deficiency in Vitamin D. He prescribed two 50,000 mg tablets of Vitamin D per week for 8 weeks. Due to a side effect of heart palpitations,4 I reduced an original intake of 70,000 mg down to a symptom free regimen of 14,000 mg per week.5 I got out in the sun briefly, when I could, and I took Vitamin D3, a reportedly more potent source of the vitamin, also known as cholecalciferol.
In just 8 weeks after beginning the vitamin supplement, I had renewed strength in my knees. I no longer had knee pain or the need to treat inflammation. The times of my two mile laps increased steadily. Last weekend, I took an extended 20 mile ride with no joint pain. My daily two mile bike sprints clock in at my personal best time.
The improvement to my knee health leads me to wonder: How long was I deficient in Vitamin D? Does my health record answer the question? Did the deficiency contribute to my knee bursitis? If yes, could I have continued running, with proper treatment? Can I safely run now?
You can be sure I will pursue the answers. My Vitamin D level will be tested soon. I’ll work to maintain it. I’ll pursue exercise, including a steady regimen of dynamic knee workout during the winter months. I’ll report back to you next year, regardless of the answers I receive.