A magnesium deficiency intensifies the experience of pain. That's why magnesium plays such a big role in the pain dance fairy tale.
Chronic pain is chemically similar to chronic stress. In the past, stress meant that our lives were in danger. We had to fight or flee to survive. Therefore, in the event of stress, the body prepares for great physical exertion.
Whether the stress is physical or just mental is irrelevant. We can distinguish between a mad dog that approaches us or a bad boss who increases the workload. Your brain only knows a state of alarm, regardless of whether we have to run (mad dog) or sit in an office chair (bad boss). As a result, the body is in supreme alertness (all senses are on edge to perceive everything properly) and prepares for enormous physical exertion (whether it comes or not).
The following example comes from the Dr. Ronald van der Vlies, an expert on stress:
To prepare the body for exercise a massive influx of calcium into muscle cells is needed. That influx is so great that the heart threatens to work overtime.
As an example I take: you drive calmly with 90 km on the road, suddenly there is danger and you have to speed up to 120 km. However, the massive influx of calcium into the muscle cells means that we suddenly drive 150 km instead of 120. We must counteract this. This occurs through massive release of magnesium from other cells. Magnesium inhibits the influx of calcium. However, the magnesium emissions are so high that we soon reach the 105 km again. Too much brake. The body counteracts this by massively removing magnesium through the kidneys and now we are at 120 km. However, the price tag is urinary magnesium loss. You end up in a near traffic accident.
If you were to measure the 24-hour urine sample, you would find a massive amount of magnesium in it.
With chronic stress due to a bad relationship, workload or pain you get a permanent loss of magnesium. Less massive, but the loss is there. This eventually leads to a shortage of magnesium. Research from the 1990s in Germany showed that 15% of the population had a magnesium deficiency due to modern agricultural methods. When stressed, this percentage increases. I systematically measured it in whole blood in the 1980s and came to a 33% deficiency of magnesium in my practice. More recent research estimates that more than 40% of Americans are magnesium deficient. I wouldn't be surprised if, in our hectic existence, this percentage is also achieved in the Netherlands.
The percentage of chronic pain sufferers has steadily increased and is now about 20% of the world's population (in the 1980s it was about 10%). Since chronic stress can cause a magnesium deficiency and chronic pain shows similarities with chronic stress, there is a chance that the magnesium deficiency has also increased over the years.
If 40-50% of healthy people already have a magnesium deficiency, how high will this be for chronic pain patients? Personally, I have noticed that my body still needs more than normal magnesium and that all the chronic pain patients I have treated have benefited greatly from supplementing with magnesium.
Magnesium is naturally present in our cells. As soon as the cell is activated by a stimulus, a large part of the magnesium leaves the cell and allows calcium to flow in. This makes the cell active. When the action stimulus is over, magnesium flows back into the cell and pushes the calcium out. The cell is now at rest.
In the case of a magnesium deficiency, calcium will remain in the cell. The cell will therefore remain in action and will not be able to relax. Magnesium deficiency leads to overstimulation of the cells. (source: Magnesium health institute).