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Do Supplements Like Magnesium for Joint Pain Really Help?

Updated on August 11, 2012

Joint pain is a common problem that can severely affect your quality of life. Unfortunately, this condition can also be extremely difficult to treat. This is because joint pain may be due to many different causes. In some people, the cause is relatively straightforward, such as when pain occurs after an injury. In other people, the pain may be due to an autoimmune disorder or even a basic nutritional deficiency. While surgery, drugs or physical therapy may be necessary for some, other cases of joint pain can be treated with basic supplements, including magnesium.

Magnesium Levels and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a persistent condition in which a person has pain in the tendons, joints, muscles and similar tissues, as well as fatigue and trouble sleeping. A study published in Rheumatology Itnernational showed that women who suffered from this condition had low magnesium levels in their blood.

When treated with magnesium citrate, these patients had reduced symptoms of tenderness, improved mood and lower overall fibromyalgia. Patients fared better when the magnesium citrate was combined with amitriptyline than when treated with just magnesium for joint pain.

Magnesium as an Anti-inflammatory

Some people also take magnesium supplements for non-fibromyalgia-related joint pain. This treatment is recommended by naturopaths and other alternative health practitioners based on the anti-inflammatory properties associated with this mineral.

The human body uses magnesium very quickly when in pain, and low levels of the mineral in the bloodstream are believed to contribute to frequent muscle and joint aches. Naturopaths recommend consuming magnesium supplements that also contain taurine and malic acid, two substances that have also been associated with pain relief.

Magnesium Deficiencies

This mineral is essential for good physical health, and most people should get 300 to 420 milligrams per day. Magnesium is easily found in many foods, including roasted peanuts, wheat bran, almonds, spinach, cashews and soybeans, so most people get enough. Too little magnesium can contribute to bone problems, however. People whose diets are high in calcium but low in magnesium may suffer from osteoporosis symptoms, resulting in weak bones and joint aches. Low magnesium levels can also cause increased muscle cramping and tension.

Supplementation with magnesium for joint pain can act to correct this problem, producing greater bone strength and a reduced risk of serious injury. Many magnesium-containing foods also contain phytoestrogens, estrogen-like substances that help women who are past menopause avoid osteoporosis, making them an excellent dietary addition.

Topical Application

Interestingly, magnesium can be used not only internally, but also externally in gel form. This method works well for people who cannot use supplements or who need short-term relief. Applying the gel to the surface of the skin can potentially relieve minor inflammation and soreness around the joints, though it won't repair serious damage. Since the magnesium can be effectively absorbed through the skin, it works in many of the same ways as oral supplementation, but it doesn't produce the digestive side effects associated with some capsules.

Other Supplements

Magnesium isn't the only supplement that can be used to treat joint pain. Many other nutrients are also associated with proper bone, muscle and tendon function, as well as reducing pain and inflammation. These include supplements that provide higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, substances of which most people get far too little. Omega-3s can help produce healthier, more flexible joints and have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other joint inflammation disorders.

Some of the most popular supplements of this type include flax-seed and fish oil. These can be used in conjunction with other anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements, including green-lipped mussel powder harvested in New Zealand, which provides a range of health-supporting nutrients and anti-inflammatory substances.


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    • raj2006 profile image

      raj2006 5 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks for your valuable comment.

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Magnesium is one of the most important 'carriers' in the nervous system. The nervous system having biological priority, any deficiency in the neural tissue will result in 'sucking' magnesium off the bones and joints. It's good to combine magnesium with potassium (as in tomatoes) vitamin B, as well as calcium and some moderate amounts of salt (it's excess salt to be harmful, not salt altogether, a serious deficiency might be even terminal to brain tissue) - and the 'sucker' is happy. ;)

      I wouldn't agree that one should focus in their diet on isolated substances.