Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) was introduced to the medical community in the mid-1960s as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Clinical studies and subjective claims abounded about its healing effects on a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Unfortunately, soon after the incorporation of DMSO into rehabilitation routines, the American Medical Association (AMA) denounced many of the studies of DMSO as being unscientific in nature, and the possibility of toxic effects on the optical lens was noted in an experiment using primates as subjects. As a result, the use of DMSOin the medical community was halted. The exact mechanisms by which DMSO affects the healing process are unknown; however, several studies from the 1980s noted specific effects during various phases of the inflammatory process, such as monocyte and fibroblast activity. Presently, DMSO is considered an investigational drag and has not been approved by the Food and Drag Administration for use with musculoskeletal disorders.
Kevin M. Cross is with the Athletic Department, Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA 24088.