Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain: Considering Magnesium Lotion

Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain: Considering Magnesium Lotion

By Joanna Mechlinski

Joanna Mechlinski

Joanna Mechlinski

Like most people suffering from chronic pain, I’m on a never-ending quest. It generally goes unmentioned, yet it’s as relentlessly present as the prescription bottles in my cabinet.

I’m always searching for a new natural way of alleviating my pain. I scan the internet, searching the latest articles and clicking my way down the familiar e-rabbit hole as one site leads to another and another. I chat with people both online and within my daily interactions, gleaning tips and new ideas from their experiences.

Recently I stumbled upon an article mentioning magnesium lotion, which intrigued me. I’d never before heard of any way to supplement your magnesium levels except by pill or by soaking in an Epsom salt bath. But my rheumatologist tends to advocate staying away from vitamin pills, and due to the weakened muscles in my thighs, I have a hard time rising up from a tub. So the option of another delivery system was pretty exciting.

Magnesium, which is credited with relieving muscle pain, calming anxiety, increasing bone and heart health and even alleviating premenstrual symptoms, is most commonly ingested orally. However, pills aren’t necessarily the best way. Depending upon the person, a large amount of the magnesium may not be absorbed, exiting the body as waste. But if it’s absorbed through the skin – the body’s largest organ – it bypasses the digestion process, going directly where it’s needed.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium per day for adult women is 310-320 mg and 400-420 mg for men. Pregnant or breastfeeding women need even more. But many people today don’t get enough, in large part due to poor diets. Excessive amounts of alcohol, coffee or tea, soda or processed sugar can keep the body from adequately processing or retaining magnesium. Even some methods of food processing essentially strip the nutrient from the product. People with certain health conditions or using medications or health conditions may also rob people of adequate magnesium levels.

Not being familiar with any particular brand of magnesium lotion, I decided to check out the available brands on Amazon. Like most products in today’s world, there was a huge assortment – with widely varying prices as well. While I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for something I couldn’t even be certain would help me, I also didn’t want to end up with a sub-par product merely because of frugality. Luckily many of the lotions seemed priced within a bracket (about $18-$25 for an 8 oz. bottle, which lasted me two months). So I simply chose one at random, checked the customer reviews (nearly all the 80+ comments were positive) and gave it a try.

The recommended amount is two teaspoonfuls twice a day. At first, I was a bit skeptical, as that seemed like such a tiny amount. How could it possibly be effective? But I quickly discovered that the lotion spreads well and covers a good sized-area. Two teaspoonfuls is quite a generous amount!

The lotion feels a bit sticky upon first contact, but is quickly absorbed into the skin. It does, however, leave a slight white film, much like what you’d expect after a swim in the ocean. The instructions advise washing the areas after letting the lotion absorb about twenty minutes, but I haven’t personally done that. I generally massage the lotion into my entire body – arms, legs, abdomen, lower back, shoulders – so I would essentially have to take two extra showers each day. I haven’t seen any adverse effects because of leaving it on.

So far, I’ve been using the magnesium lotion twice a day for six weeks. I began to feel some effects after about two weeks. It was quite subtle, but after the realization dawned on me, I recognized a distinct lessening of muscle pain, particularly in my upper legs. As I’ve been living with daily pain in that area for over a decade, having something alleviate it – let alone something as simple as a lotion – was quite the revelation.

Will this lotion continue to be effective for me down the road? I can’t be sure, of course. But that’s just fine by me. Even if it helps a little, and only for a little while, that’s more than I had before. I’m willing to try all the options available as I continue my journey.

Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a lifelong Connecticut resident, avid reader and animal lover who has battled several chronic illnesses since her early twenties.

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Authored by: Joanna Mechlinski

There are 13 comments for this article
  1. Judy A Jaeger at 6:10 pm

    Very interesting article. I just heard not long ago about Magnesium oil or lotion, and have been thinking about trying it. I currently take a Magnesium Malate Supplement (100MG 3X daily), as well as other supplements, Multi-Vitamin, Omega 3, CQ10, and Devil’s Claw. I don’t take any prescription or illegal drugs.

    I’ve been living with chronic pain (DDD, Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis, to name a few).since 1992. The first few years I was treated with Vicodin, and epidural injections. The injections were discontinued because they offered no relief. Then I moved to another state. My new doctor told me I had to “learn to live with the pain”……he would prescribe 20 Vicodin expecting them to last for 6 months….no refills. Eventually even that stopped. Only time he’d write me a new prescription was when I’d have a flare up of sciatica, which usually happens once or twice a year. I’ve done PT several times, chiropractic care (until my ins. deemed it not medically necessary), tai chi, all the over the counter creams, rubs, patches, roll-ons. I’m sure there’s more I just can’t recall right now. Sometimes the pain causes “brain fog”….can’t concentrate or focus 🙁

    Anyhow, my point is since starting all those supplements about 6 months ago or so, I am feeling a bit better. Instead of my old normal daily pain level of 7-8, it’s down to a 6 most days. The magnesium I found at Walmart was NOT the right kind. There’s at least 9 different forms of Magnesium. The reason I chose Magnesium Malate is because it’s suppose to help fibromyalgia, fatigue, energy, muscle soreness, recovery, lean muscle growth, muscle cramps & pain. Seems to be the one best suited for me.

    I’m looking forward to trying the magnesium oil or lotion.

  2. Sky at 1:16 pm

    There is also Mag oil I just add it to the lotions i already use and like. I won’t buy those commercial products as they are tested on animals, etc. so that s a good way to get the benefits with your own preferences. It does help a little.

  3. Gracie Bagosy-Young at 5:24 am

    I have CRPS. I absolutely love my magnesium lotion! It doesn’t eliminate my pain, but it sure does help! Thanks for the article!

  4. K Smith at 10:50 pm

    Like Margaret Waterstone I myself suffer from CRPS, and always trying natural things.
    I have magnesium blocks done to help repair my damaged nerves.I also have Qutenza treatment where they burn your effected limb with hot chilli pads.
    I would like to try this but better check with my consultant that I wouldn’t be OD on magnesium.
    Thanks for your post

  5. Mike at 6:14 pm

    Layla Rose,

    I like your post, I have switched my drug plan many times and even tho I have been through all levels with these crooks, and the dr puts me on a new drug, the insurance companies say you have to go through there steps before they approve it, I am 75 years old , I don’t have to many steps my self left.

  6. Mike at 6:06 pm

    you buy all the creams on the Internet, I have bought a large shoe box full of creams and lotions from all over the world, some days I use several of them looking for some kind of relief, it would take a long day to try each one of them.
    Are we addicts?

  7. K. at 5:53 am

    Joanne,

    I had full body muscle spasms bad enough to look like grand mal seizures.

    I started taking magnesium that a local chemist had attached to an amino acid in a process called chelation. it tricks the body into thinking it is food and allows for much better absorption. It was a huge game changer for me and the spasms were significantly reduced. I stopped the clonopin, valium and baclofen.
    I believe chelated magnesium can now be purchased on Amazon. It is more expensive, but worth it!
    Also, I use the magnesium oil for back spasms. I put it in a small spray bottle and my hubby sprays it on my back. Works within minutes. Note: the oil can burn a little after a few minutes so I put it on before my shower, let it absorb, then wash it off.

    Thank you for the post.

  8. Tina at 1:53 pm

    Wouldn’t it be super useful to have a single list or article with the most effective recommended natural remedies for Fibro pain including how they interact with medications.

    There are so many articles, advertisements and stories about natural treatments, and it’s overwhelming to research and test all the products and many are very expensive and out of reach for many of us due to financial status.

    If there were a way to try these remedies for a couple months and determine which seem to be helpful, that would be useful, right.

    When natural remedies don’t mix with prescriptions it’s even more challenging to test them.

    Aqua therapy and music give me something to look forward to. Aqua therapy is not a cure, but a great way to maintain muscle tone and circulation. Also nice opportunity to get out and socialize a bit, since 65% or more of my day is in bed.

    Ice is helpful for my chest, upper back, knee pains and only somewhat for headaches/migraines, but not everyone can tolerate ice. I’m unable to tolerate heat, bright light, and strong odors (often strong to me but not others).

    Reflexology has also been something to look forward to (great opportunity for meditation and relaxation), however I must give specific instruction regarding sensitive areas.

    CBT has also been helpful for mental health and perspective on life, but doesn’t relive pain. I understand that many of us have high pain tolerance (thought I did until Fibro – my Fibro is considered Severe).

    I’m unable to tolerate Lyrica, Gabapentin and other standard drugs for Fibro (understand that only 50% of patients experience relief from standard Fibro meds). Therefore, I rely on Opiates for pain management. Doctors now say that Opiates aren’t recommended by CDC for Fibro, however my options are limited and I’d be unable to manage pain without Opiates. Additionally, I have comorbidities including DJD, DDD, CTS and have had several surgeries and epidurals.

    If there are natural remedies that work well and are affordable for those with limited resources, I’d truly appreciate the opportunity to try them.

    Have also heard that HBOT (decompression chamber) therapy helps with Fibro, yet that isn’t approved for Fibro in the US yet.

    Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, fatigue etc and would love a simple answer or cure. Its seems we’re all unique and have different experiences with various treatment options.

    It would be great and super beneficial if more Medical Professionals were educated about Fibromyalgia.

    Thanks for allowing me to share.

    Kind regards..

  9. Layla Rose at 1:18 pm

    Sadly many people who rely on opioids have likely already tried alternatives first. I didn’t even really need them until recently and before very seldom. But in the last few years I’m unable to clean my apt w/o any strong pain meds. Since the fatigue is also really bad, and I have a paradoxical reaction to pain meds, they kill 2 birds with one stone, so to speak. Before I began getting them regularly, on my own, I went over a year w/o cleaning my house once. You can’t imagine the shame, misery, and embarassment of that, until you’ve experienced. Even then I knew I needed something more than ibuprofen and/aspercreme, but could seldom obtain anything stronger than meloxicam.

  10. Dale Woodworth-Tonso at 6:20 am

    Thank you for sharing this information! I am a chronic pain sufferer who, like yourself is constantly looking for new routes of alternative treatment. Having been diagnosed two years ago with Celiac I have repeatedly tested low on magnesium and using oral supplements proves ineffective due to absorption issues. This topical treatment may be my answer!!!

  11. B.Margaret Waterson at 5:30 am

    I am very interested in this post.
    A long time sufferer from CRPS (10 years+) I have had some small relief from soaking in Epsom Salts but…carrying the water etc is a big chore so I was happy to see a cream called ProCure Epsom Salt rub on more than on email order catalogue.
    I’m sending for some PDQ and hoping!!
    B M Waterson

  12. Susan Elliott at 3:37 am

    Thank you. I make my own natural muscle cream and will look into this. My journey into alternative skincare started with a terminally ill husband who had horrible psoriasis. When he went on hospice, they would only pay for drugs directly related to his cancer. He had lost a lot of weight, had horrible psoriasis and I had promised him that I would not let him return to the hospital but if he got a bed sore, I would have to do that. The doctor prescribed a tube of zinc and magnesium cream that cost over $500 and we went through it in a few days. I started researching to make my own cream and was successful (and thankfully kept my promise). Since his passing I fractured my back and have been diagnosed with Lupus and am always in pain. I have a skincare company now and specialize in all-natural blends. I’m going to work on a magnesium cream. Thank you so very much for this information.

  13. J.K. at 3:33 am

    It’s my understanding that if magnesium levels are really low, the body will absorb magnesium oil or lotion quickly. In the case of oil, it can actually burn a bit as it’s absorbed; my doctor recommended for me to begin by cutting it in half with coconut oil, until my magnesium levels were raised. The oil or lotion can be very helpful with nighttime leg cramps, too.