Note: This column describes the author’s own experiences with liquid magnesium. Not everyone will have the same response to treatments and supplements. Consult your doctor before starting or stopping a therapy or supplement.
What a lovely feeling to wake up feeling refreshed, hop out of bed, and shimmy around the kitchen in my fluffy bathrobe, making kids school lunches without thinking about anything other than slicing cheese and cutting up carrots.
That’s right: My ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is feeling much improved at the moment, and I couldn’t be happier. My joints are moving freely, I’m sleeping soundly without rudely being prodded awake by a burning spine, and I even completed a decent workout this week without feeling worse the next day.
I almost feel nervous putting my delight at this period of AS remission into words, in case the universe somehow overhears it and punishes me with another flare.
So you might be asking, what have I changed lately?
The only major change that springs to mind is that my husband, Dave — who also was diagnosed with AS — and I have started regularly applying liquid magnesium for the last month. It comes in a little bottle no bigger than the palm of your hand, and right before bed, we each rub four drops onto our stomachs. I add another drop to the bottoms of my feet, because I’m prone to toe-curling foot cramps in the night, and magnesium seems to stop the cramps completely.
Muscle tightness is part of my AS
According to the Kingston Hospital in the U.K., AS pain can be caused by “shortening or tightening of muscles or tendons. This can lead to a dull, achy type of pain.” It’s not surprising that AS can affect your muscles. I’ve seen that when Dave is in pain, he holds his body differently. It affects how he walks and sits, and his posture seems far more rigid and less natural. Prolonged periods of holding our bodies differently, as well as the added tension from AS inflammation, no doubt puts uneven pressure and strain on our muscles.
In my experience with AS, the inflammation in my joints seems to cause a lot of muscle tension. When I’m not in remission, I can usually feel my muscles tightening all the way up my back, with two epicenters of rigidity around my shoulder blades, and up my neck. My masseuse has commented in the past that it feels like I have two iron rods instead of muscles running up the sides of my spine.
But for the last few weeks, as I’ve been applying magnesium oil, my back muscles feel supple and relaxed. I even walked past a massage clinic at the shopping mall today and the usual longing for relief from back stiffness didn’t pop into my head.
Can magnesium play a role in managing AS?
Magnesium is an important nutrient for healthy body function on many levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body, such as supporting muscle and nerve function and energy production.”
There are also claims that magnesium might help people sleep better. If you’re anything like me, you’ve built up years of sleep deprivation thanks to the insomnia caused by AS pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Naoki Umeda, MD, “Magnesium may help regulate neurotransmitters that are directly related to sleep.”
Because of the positive difference I can feel in my muscles when I use magnesium, I was genuinely surprised at the difficulty I found in locating clinical evidence of its efficacy. Despite our body’s biological need for magnesium, evidence from clinical trials is thin to support magnesium as a treatment or supplement for muscle spasms, insomnia, or other AS symptoms.
“The studies on sleep and magnesium were all small studies, and the evidence is thin,” Umeda cautions.
Our anecdotal experiences are certainly not a medical recommendation for using magnesium. Dave and I are just regular people with AS who are willing to try different natural and medical therapies to seek relief. But in my eyes, the results have been quite positive. My experience indicates to me that my back muscles are less tense and I’m sleeping more soundly. Dave also agrees that his sleep is much improved on the days he applies magnesium.
Given the low cost of magnesium supplements and topical liquid, I would like to see more clinical trials to test the efficacy of magnesium in managing muscle stiffness and sleep disorders related to ankylosing spondylitis.
Reminder: Always speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before trying new supplements or medication.
Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.