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Magnesium Supplementation for Orthopaedic Conditions

As a physiotherapist, I have suggested patients consider investigating Magnesium supplementation for various orthopaedic conditions.  One of the primary reasons I have recommended it is excessive tone in muscles and nocturnal cramping.  Recent studies indicate it may also be helpful in addressing other issues including osteoarthritic conditions:

“Lower magnesium intake was associated with worse pain and function in knee osteoarthritis, especially among individuals with low fiber intake.” (Shmagel et al 2018)

“Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults.” (Tarleton et al 2017)

“… 4 weeks of oral magnesium supplementation can reduce pain intensity and improve lumbar spine mobility… in patients with refractory chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component.”  (Yousef et al 2013)

When blood serum magnesium levels drop, this essential mineral is rapidly harvested from bone and muscle cells, in order to normalize serum levels.  For this reason, doctors do not routinely test blood serum magnesium levels because results may come back normal while actual magnesium levels in tissues can be low. 

The top 10 signs that an individual may have magnesium deficiency in their tissue are as follows:  headaches, muscle aches and cramps (especially calf and low back), muscle twitching, poor sleep / difficulty falling asleep, frequent urination (especially at night), constipation, heart palpitations, high stress / low mood / decreased concentration, craving for dark chocolate, and severe PMS symptoms.  After a family doctor has ruled out other medical conditions such as thyroid issues, diabetes, or low iron, a combination of the above symptoms may point to tissue magnesium deficiency.

If you feel you may have low tissue magnesium, you should consult with your pharmacist about going on a 2 month trial of 400 mg of magnesium citrate and see if you notice any changes in your symptoms.  Magnesium supplements can interact with antibiotics, cardiac, blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis medications.  An Epsom salt bath is also an effective way to deliver additional magnesium to your tissues.  Eating magnesium rich foods such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, navy beans, spinach, broccoli, avocado and brown rich is also a dietary means of addressing deficiencies.  Studies show that reducing your intake of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated sodas will also increase the effectiveness of magnesium in your system.  Supplementing with magnesium may be a helpful adjunct to your physiotherapy, massage or chiropractic interventions!

Lee Quenneville                  

Registered Physiotherapist

Orthopaedic Acupuncturist