Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a product many people seek to relieve their nerve pain. DMSO is an industrial solvent, and it was used extensively for this purpose since the mid-1800s. Today, people are using DMSO for nerve pain with varying success.
During the papermaking process, DMSO is made. The byproduct comes from a substance found in wood. The byproduct was used extensively as a solvent, but researchers have since studied DMSO to determine its efficacy as an anti-inflammatory.
Under medical supervision, this substance is used for:
- Painful bladder syndrome
- Pain Relief
DMSO is a liquid, but it can also be added to creams or gels to be applied topically. The substance is applied to the area of the skin where the pain exists. The substance rapidly absorbs into the skin and can be used to increase the body's absorption of other medications.
Topical application is the most common way to apply DMSO.
The safety of oral supplementation remains unclear. Over-the-counter products containing DMSO are available and are the most common option when using DMSO for:
DMSO for nerve pain is still being studied, but there is evidence that some nerve pain sufferers find relief with this substance where other forms of relief have failed.
Due to the substance's ability to increase the effect of some medicines, it's important to avoid usage if you're taking any of the following medications:
- Blood thinners
The risks associated with the liquid, cream, and gel are minimal.
What are the Risks of Using DMSO?
If you're taking medications, you may want to consult with your doctor to ensure that DMSO will not interact with them. The risks are primarily mild and include:
- Loss of appetite
- Skin irritation
- Upset stomach
Allergic reactions and a strong garlic odor have also been reported by some users. If you experience any allergic reactions, burning or other severe symptoms, stop using DMSO.
Note: Use only as advised to avoid severe reactions. Pregnant women should avoid usage.
When used properly, DMSO is generally safe with minimal side effects.
Does DMSO Help Nerve Pain?
Multiple studies have been done on DMSO to determine if it's an alternative for people with nerve pain.
1993 Study from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
A 1993 study was found to block C-type nerve fibers. These fibers are responsible for pain mediation. When DMSO was applied directly to sural nerves, it was found that the velocity of C fiber conduction was reduced.
There was a 9% minimum blocking, with 15% DMSO concentrations providing nearly immediate blocking.
What this means is that DMSO was able to block pain, to a certain degree, with almost immediate benefits at high concentration levels. Users would need to apply the substance to the direct area where pain exists to find relief.
British Columbia Study
A study in British Columbia was conducted on numerous topical treatments to determine which substances can help the over 1 million Canadians suffering from neuropathic pain.
One of the questions that researchers were trying to answer was: Does DMSO help with nerve pain?
Researchers initiated the study with the understanding that DMSO:
- Increases the effectiveness of drug movement in the body
- Is used for neuropathic pain due to the substance's impact on C-fiber modulation
The study found that capsaicin and lidocaine were able to provide relief for neuropathic pain. Researchers point to a 2013 study finding that low levels of pain relief exist when DMSO is applied. Even low levels of pain relief can lead to a significant improvement in quality of life.
German Study on DMSO and Pain
A study in Germany involved 112 patients who suffered from knee joint damage. Researchers looked at the ability of DMSO to reduce pain levels. The double-blind study used 25% DMSO in gel form over a three-week period.
The group was divided into patients who were administered a placebo and those who were administered the DMSO gel.
Participants in the study were advised to keep a pain journal that outlined their pain on a day-by-day basis. The participants that were administered DMSO noted a significant reduction in:
- Pain during everyday activities
- Pain at rest
- Pain on palpation
Significant improvements in pain were also noted. The placebo group did not note reductions in pain.
DMSO for nerve pain is a good alternative to traditional forms of pain relief that have high risks of dependency. The topical application poses minimal side effects, most notably skin irritation. Users that have severe skin irritation or allergic reactions should stop using DMSO.
If you plan to try DMSO, simply apply your liquid, cream, or gel directly to the area where you're experiencing pain. Most users experience pain relief in as little as a day, with many experiencing almost immediate benefits.