Magnesium for Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common physical complaints among American adults. In fact, according to the American Chiropractic Association, around 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time. Back pain can range from an annoying twinge to crippling, agonizing sensations that leave you unable to move. While many treatments can help, some research has shown that magnesium supplements may also offer benefits. Consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement.

Function of Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in your body. It plays an important role in many biological processes, such as energy synthesis, cardiovascular functioning and also helps in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, according to Dr. Michael B. Schachter, of Schacter Center for Complementary Medicine. Although magnesium is present in a number of foods, such as halibut, leafy greens and nuts, most Americans do not obtain enough dietary magnesium. If you suffer from low levels of magnesium, you may experience any number of symptoms, including muscle twitching, spasms, numbness and tension, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, backaches and pain.

Back Pain and Magnesium

Back pain can leave you feeling drained and exhausted, unable to pick yourself up off the couch or get out of bed. One of the major roles of magnesium is energy metabolism. Specifically, magnesium helps to manufacture ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, your body's main source of fuel. In their book, "The Complete Doctor's Healthy Back Bible," Dr. Stephen Charles Reed and naturopathic doctor Penny Kendall-Reed point out that since low levels of magnesium result in decreased energy production, you may also experience fatigue or depression accompanied by your back pain or spasms. Additionally, Reed and Kendall-Reed point out that magnesium supplementation can often ameliorate these effects and alleviate symptoms of chronic pain.

Clinical Evidence

A number of studies have confirmed the benefits of magnesium supplementation for chronic pain conditions like back pain. One study, published in the July-August 2009 issue of the journal "Pain Medicine" found that magnesium supplementation helped to significantly reduce pain among patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome, a disorder that can cause serious pain in any part of the body. Additionally, in a September 23, 2002, interview with CTV News, chronic pain specialist Dr. Linda Rapson states that many of her patients who complain of chronic muscle aches and spasms are deficient in magnesium. Rapson reports that "virtually all" of her patients improve when she treats them with magnesium.


While magnesium supplements may offer some relief from back pain, you should never use dietary supplements to self-treat your symptoms. Chronic back pain may be a sign of an underlying medical disorder. Consult your doctor to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. As with any dietary supplement, inform your doctor if you choose to use magnesium supplementation.