Why Do Children with Autism Experience Limb Pain?

Pain and recurring cramps in one or more limbs are common among children on the autistic continuum. Understandably, this can be an unpleasant condition for children of any age and make everyday tasks more difficult than they should be.

Chronic fatigue with children with autism

But what causes limb pain in children with autism?

One common potential explanation is magnesium deficiency. This mineral plays a key part in helping muscles relax across the smooth, heart, and skeletal muscles. When the body lacks the right amount of magnesium, muscles can contract too much — leading to pain in one or more limbs. However, magnesium deficiency can cause even worse problems.

Additional problems caused by magnesium deficiency

As magnesium is responsible for several physiological functions, a prolonged deficiency can contribute to the following issues.


Healthy gastrointestinal tract motility relies on magnesium. A deficiency may disrupt the gastrointestinal tract’s usual function and leave it unable to facilitate proper digestion. As a result, persistent constipation can occur.


Uncontrollable shaking may occur during convulsions, as muscles tighten and relax in quick succession without magnesium to help regulate their function.

Sleep problems

Magnesium encourages the production of 5methoxy-N-acetyltryptamine: this molecule is derived from serotonin and related to healthy sleep patterns.

Chronic fatigue

Children with a magnesium deficiency may often feel fatigued, as magnesium is important for conditioning the breakdown of ATP (human energy units).

Nervous conditions

Magnesium is required to produce serotonin, essential for regulating mood and relaxation. A lack of magnesium can lead to nervousness and make it harder for a child on the autistic continuum to calm down.


The body needs magnesium to produce dopamine and epinephrine, both crucial for focusing and concentrating. Too little may contribute to hyperactivity.

Why are children living with autism more susceptible to magnesium deficiency?

Children on the autistic continuum often consume a selective diet. This may not include green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, bananas, and magnesium sources.

Additionally, conditions such as diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and other disrupting absorption can be blamed. These can prevent children from getting the nutrition they need from food over time.

In some cases, an overproduction of the Candida Albicans Fungus can lead to infections, disrupting magnesium absorption further.

Children on the autistic continuum can feel stressed and under pressure more than others, both of which can place a greater demand on the body for magnesium. This may lead to a deficiency if not addressed.

How to identify a magnesium deficiency

Laboratory tests can detect magnesium deficiency in children. When a deficiency is detected, the child may be required to take magnesium each night before bed, as it can help relax the muscles. However, dosages should be managed carefully, as magnesium toxicity can lead to fatigue, respiratory issues, and more.

Legal clarification – the statements herein are intended to expand personal knowledge and general understanding only. The foregoing is not to be considered an alternative to medical consultation and/or medication or treatment performed by a caregiver or physician, or constitute a recommendation for individual care in any way.

Additional information:

C.A.T Center | Why Do Children with Autism Experience Limb Pain?