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Magnesium and Osteoarthritis - We can help!

February 20, 2020 3 min read

Magnesium & Osteoarthritis - We can help!

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic, degenerative joint disorder currently affecting over 2.2 million Australians as of 20191. It is associated with pain, a reduced level of function and an impaired quality of life. OA begins to occur when the cartilage that overlies the ends of bones in joints begins to break down1. The pain that is experienced in OA is more complex than the explanation of “wear and tear” which is commonly blamed.

 Osteoarthritis and Pain

There are multiple pathways for ‘pain’ to develop for someone with OA. There is of course the ‘wear and tear’ aspect of OA, which can cause pain, mainly due to the narrowing of the affected joint space as a result of the cartilage breaking down. Peripheral and central sensitisation is also acknowledged to contribute to the overall clinical ‘pain’ picture. For a full summary on pain and how sensitisation can impact pain, visit our blog on acute vs chronic pain!


 A study by Skou and colleagues2 (2013) found that the difference in the maximum pain felt could be explained by the central nervous system spreading sensitisation to the affected area. The study went on to implicate that treating central pain components may be more important than previously acknowledged. Current pharmacological management of OA is unsatisfactory in this regard as it does not address the effects of sensitisation. A lot of major opioid usage, tryciclic anti-depressants, SSRI and anti-convulsants have major side effects.

The study by Neogi et al3 (2015) has proposed that sensitisation in knee OA may be due to several factors. The chronic inflammation associated with knee OA may increase the sensitivity of nociceptors (pain receptors) and spinal dorsal horn transmission (central sensitisation). In doing so, these alterations also contribute to the pain experience of someone living with OA.

 So how does Magnesium fit into the picture?

Magnesium has an anti-nociceptive4 effect by blocking a particular pain receptor known as NMDA. These receptors are located in the skin, the dorsal horn and the spinal cord5. Due to there being NMDA receptors in the skin, topical magnesium may be more specific to the site of pain compared to an oral type of magnesium. Furthermore, magnesium deficiency has also been linked as a risk factor for OA development and progression as a result of inflammation in the body. Veronese et al6 (2019) found that a higher magnesium level corresponded to an increase in mean cartilage thickness and volume, suggesting a potential role for magnesium in the prevention and treatment of Knee OA6.

How Can ANH help relieve Osteoarthritic pain?

The ANH Magnesium gel and spray range are topical in nature, allowing for more targeted relief to a particular area of pain. Being a topical form of magnesium, it does not have the associated side effects of oral magnesium, as it does not pass through the digestive tract!

1 - https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis/contents/what-is-osteoarthritis

2- Skou, S., Graven-Nielsen, T., Lengsoe, L., Simonsen, O., Laursen, M., & Arendt-Nielsen, L. (2013). Relating clinical measures of pain with experimentally assessed pain mechanisms in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 4(2), 111–117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2012.07.001

3 - Neogi, T., Frey-Law, L., Scholz, J., Niu, J., Arendt-Nielsen, L., Woolf, C., … Felson, D. (2015). Sensitivity and sensitisation in relation to pain severity in knee osteoarthritis: trait or state? Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 74(4), 682–688. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204191

4 – Mark L. Mayer, Gary L. Westbrook, & Peter B. Guthrie. (1984). Voltage-dependent block by Mg2+ of NMDA responses in spinal cord neurones. Nature, 309(5965), 261–263. https://doi.org/10.1038/309261a0

5 - Tseng, C., Chia, Y., Liu, C., Feng, K., & Tan, P. (2017). The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in skin, dorsal root ganglion and spinal cord: an ideal target gene for RNA interference therapy for pain relief. Neuropsychiatry, 07(03). doi: 10.4172/neuropsychiatry.1000209

6 - Veronese, N., La Tegola, L., Caruso, M., Maggi, S., Guglielmi, G., & Veronese, N. (2019). The Association between Dietary Magnesium Intake and Magnetic Resonance Parameters for Knee Osteoarthritis. Nutrients, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061387


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