Nerve and Back Pain Treated with Magnesium
“Clinical experience, as well as research in nerve pain conditions such as pancreatic cancer, has shown that magnesium can be an effective treatment for pain. Although it is clear why magnesium can decrease muscle pain (it makes muscles relax), why it would help nerve pain has only more recently become clear. A major mechanism of pain is the excessive stimulation of a brain chemical called “NMDA.” The few medications that help decrease and balance this pain-carrying neurotransmitter have the downside of causing significant and harmful side effects. Magnesium seems to settle down NMDA without the toxicity. The upside of magnesium is that it is very inexpensive (pennies a dose).”
“A 2008 study at Baylor University Medical Center looked at women with severe TMJ pain (Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJD (in the medical literature TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic pain, especially in the muscles of mastication and/or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint) and noticed that 22% had a deficiency in magnesium.”
“This study concluded that a poor diet and the inability to absorb nutrients contributed to the severity of the TMJ Disorder. Additionally, the University of Maryland Medical Center says calcium and magnesium supplements are often used to treat TMJ Disorders.”
“The 2013 study below found that a 2-week intravenous magnesium infusion followed by 4 weeks of oral magnesium supplementation can reduce pain intensity and improve spine mobility during a 6-month period in patients with chronic low back pain with a nerve pain component.”
Expert Commentary provided by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
Persistent mechanical irritation of the nerve root sets up a series of events mediating sensitisation of the dorsal roots and dorsal horns in the spinal cord. Current evidence supports the role of magnesium in blocking central sensitisation through its effect on N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors. We studied the role of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium infusion in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. We recruited a cohort of 80 patients with chronic low back pain with a Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Signs and Symptoms pain scale score ≥ 12, who were receiving a physical therapy programme. All patients were treated with anticonvulsants, antidepressants and simple analgesics; in addition 40 patients received placebo for 6 weeks (control group), while the other 40 patients received an intravenous magnesium infusion for 2 weeks followed by oral magnesium capsules for another 4 weeks (magnesium group). Patients were asked to rate their pain using a numerical rating scale. Lumbar spine range of motion was also determined using a long-arm goniometer. In the magnesium group, the patients’ numerical rating scales revealed a significant reduction in pain intensity. The mean (SD) pre-treatment value was 7.5 (2.2) compared with 4.7 (1.8) at 6 months (p = 0.034). The reduction in pain intensity was accompanied by significant improvement in lumbar spine range of motion during the follow-up period. The mean (SD) values of flexion, extension and lateral flexion movements before treatment and at 6-month follow up were 22.2 (8.4) vs 34.7 (11.5) (p = 0.018), 11.8 (3.4) vs 16.9 (3.5) (p = 0.039), 11.4 (3.6) vs 17.2 (4.4) (p = 0.035), respectively. Our findings show that a 2-week intravenous magnesium infusion followed by 4 weeks of oral magnesium supplementation can reduce pain intensity and improve lumbar spine mobility during a 6-month period in patients with refractory chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component.
Yousef AA, Al-deeb AE. A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Anaesthesia. 2013 Mar;68(3):260-6. doi: 10.1111/anae.12107.
Anaesthesia © 2012 The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.