Magnesium: A Complementary Treatment for a Common Injury In Athletes?
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSN
Dr. Greg Arnold earned his doctorate of chiropractic from The National University of Health Sciences in 2004 after attending Penn State University on a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. He practices in Danville, California at Complete Chiropractic Care. Dr. Arnold also offers baseball pitching instruction and is certified by the National Pitching Association.
March 9, 2011
What Makes Magnesium Special?
As the fourth most abundant element in the body, magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions that range from helping maintain normal muscle and nerve function, a steady heartbeat and both a strong immune system and bone integrity. Magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines and excreted through the kidneys while its’ distribution in the body is roughly 50% in bone, 49% in the cells of muscles and organs, and 1% in the blood.1
The diverse role of magnesium in the body also means it can help protect against a number of illnesses. While its’ role in helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels can help protect against diabetes, its ability to help relax muscles can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.2
Magnesium may also help with a common injury in athletes called myositis ossificans (MO).
What is Myositis Ossificans (MO)?
Myositis Ossificans, or MO, affects as many 20% of people who suffer traumatic thigh bruising and occurs mostly in adults between the ages of 30 and 40, men slightly more than women. MO is thought to result due to an extended presence of white blood cells fighting infection at the site of injury. Symptoms of MO include pain of the affected area for more than one year with decreased range of motion, tenderness, stiffness, and a palpable mass more than 90% of the time.3
MO is diagnosed through obtaining a clinical history of the patient, x-rays, ultrasound4, or analyzing blood samples for increased levels of a protein called “alkaline phosphatase.”
How To Treat Myositis Ossifcans (MO)?
When it comes to treatments for MO, conventional medical approaches stress immobilization of the affected muscle, keeping it in a lengthened position for 24 hours while taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). This is followed by non-painful, gentle, passive stretching for 1 to 2 weeks. West Point military academy even developed a 3-phase treatment program in 1973 that is still commonly used today.5
But research4 has also looked into the ability of magnesium to help treat MO, with 60 out of 80 patients (75%) with myositis ossifications being successfully treated with local injections of magnesium sulfate into calcified areas for periods ranging from 2 to 20 weeks.
After the injections, magnesium lactate supplements were given for 4-6 months. Not only did the MO resolve, there were no side effects reported by the patients with the magnesium treatment.
Magnesium is available as a dietary supplement but is also plentiful in foods such as green vegetables like spinach as well as legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, and whole, unrefined grains. The National Institute of Health’s recommended daily allowance for magnesium ranges from 80 mg/day in infants to 420 mg/day for males older than 31 years of age.1
- “Magnesium” – http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium
- Saris NE, Mervaala E, Karppanen H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical, and analytical aspects. Clinica Chimica Acta 2000;294:1-26.
- Li J , Zhu L , Hu Y , Liu M . Clinical analysis of 26 cases of myositis ossificans circumscripta . Chin J Traumatol . 2000;3:124–125
- Grechenig W , Fellinger M , Passler J , Clement HG . Value of ultrasound in diagnosis of post-traumatic heterotopic ossifications . Biomed Tech (Berl) . 1996;41:273–277
- Jackson DW , Feagin JA . Quadriceps contusion in young athletes . J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1973;55:95–105
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