Dupuytren Contracture Treatment with DMSO

Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) as a Dupuytren treatment

DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) was first synthesized in Germany in 1866.  Since that time it has been commercially available as a by-product of the wood and pulp industry.  Its current principle use is as an industrial solvent, and a smaller use as a medical therapeutic agent. DCI has been using DMSO as a primary Dupuytren treatment agent since 2002.

Stanley W. Jacob, MD, and others at the University of Oregon Medical School, in 1964, first investigated and described the remarkable medicinal properties of DMSO.  When applied to intact human skin, they discovered it penetrates rapidly and produces a wide range of pharmacologic actions (nonspecific enhancement of immunity, reduction of blood platelet adhesion local analgesia, dilatation of blood vessels, anti-inflammatory  properties, increased renal function to reduce edema, stopping bacterial growth in its presence, a carrier action with drugs it is coupled with, and softening of collagen (the primary component of the Dupuytren contracture palmar nodule).

As a result, DMSO has been used widely to treat various conditions (acute and chronic musculoskeletal trauma, arthritis and bursitis, chronic urogenital disorders, scleroderma, and unresponsive postoperative pain syndromes). No local or systemic toxicity or tissue destruction has ever been noted in humans when DMSO is used therapeutically.

Many veterinarians consider DMSO to be the most valuable therapeutic substance in their armamentarium.  DMSO is an approved pharmaceutical agent for human use in more than 125 countries, except the U.S. In 1970, the FDA approved DMSO for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders in dogs and horses.  Later, in 1978, the FDA gave approval for DMSO as a therapy for interstitial cystitis, a painful and disabling urinary bladder inflammation.

DMSO became a prescription item in the USSR in 1971 for various musculoskeletal problems. Dr. V. Balabanova of the Moscow Institute of Rheumatology estimates that approximately 50 percent of the Russian population who have arthritis will receive DMSO as part of their therapy. There are more than one hundred articles in the world’s literature relating to DMSO and arthritis. This widespread and common use is based on the well-established pharmacologic actions of DMSO to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, soften scar tissue and contracted fibrous tissue elements, remove free radicals, increase circulation and stimulate healing.  No one with Dupuytren contracture can deny the value of these functions in the repair of the dense fibrous lumps on palms.

Dupuytren Contracture Institute supports DMSO use

Based on research from around the world, DMSO has proven to be an effective treatment for many illnesses that otherwise have no known therapy. DMSO is safer, far less expensive, and at least as effective for a variety of problems for which the medical community is presently using other, less effective, and more costly treatments. In 1972 the National Academy of Sciences evaluated the scientific data on DMSO and determined it was a least as effective as other currently approved treatments for three musculoskeletal inflammatory human conditions. Yet, it has not been given FDA approval for these same conditions. Certainly, one of the most important questions about any new medicinal therapy is safety.  The only potentially serious side effect is the occasional patient who is allergic.  In Dupuytren contracture treatment, this is managed simply by controlling the small area to which DMSO is applied and the administration of topical vitamin E and urea with the DMSO (under the product name Dusa-Sal) used by DCI.

A careful review of the published literature on DMSO shows there is not a single death definitely attributed to this agent. Since it first appeared in the mid-1960s, hundreds of millions of treatments have been applied worldwide, showing that DMSO is a substance of extraordinary low tissue toxicity. At that time the FDA had received data submitted by approximately 1,500 U.S. physicians concerning over 100,000 DMSO applications, all showing safety and effectiveness. The pharmaceutical companies submitting this positive data were Squibb, Merck, and Syntex, all who would have suffered economic harm if this inexpensive therapy was made more popular and readily available.  With the withdrawal of their support, all further U.S. DMSO research and documentation of effectiveness has stopped.  Thus, the large drug companies blocked further interest or use of a safe, easy, effective and inexpensive substance, so they could develop drugs with greater profit potential.

Much of the resistance to the use of DMSO in Dupuytren treatment is more political and economic, than scientific.  For these reasons, the Dupuytren Contracture Institute has used the Dusa Sal brand of DMSO in its therapy program since 2002.

Dupuytren Contracture Treatment and Heat

Old-fashioned heat application helps Dupuytren treatment

Even though you follow a good Dupuytren contracture treatment program based on current biochemistry and physiology knowledge, do not overlook a very effective therapy that is essentially free.

Heat – a moist hot pack – should be a part of every Dupuytren treatment plan, especially when external therapies are used.  I am currently coaching a few MDs about treatment of their Dupuytren contracture palm lump; I know a few of them roll their eyes when they read about his because it is so simple.  Many people would probably not even consider using moist heat because it seems too basic and low-tech to be of any value to a stubborn problem like DC.  Yet, since 2002 I have advised all visitors to the DCI website to used moist heat as an important part of any Dupuytren treatment plan.

Moist heat applied before other therapies (Dusa Sal DMSO, Super CP Serum,  and Unique –E vitamin E oil) will give them an extra advantage.  Heat dilates the blood vessels and causes greater absorption of these three therapies into the tissue of the palm. Precede most any exercise or stretching therapy with moist heat to bring extra blood to the hands.  The additional blood flow and increased lymphatic drainage that occurs will allow other therapies to penetrate deeper and expand the tissue more fully.  In addition, you can also apply more moist heat after any or all of your therapies. .

A small element of potential danger is present when you apply heat to the hands, especially if you have reduced sensitivity in your hands.  You must be very careful the heat is not too great and that you do not fall asleep with the heat being applied.  If you have a fair complexion, or have a history of burning easily, take extra steps to protect yourself from injury.  It is important that you check your skin several times during this treatment to assure you are not burning yourself.  If you use common sense and care with the process, there should be little problem.

Dupuytren treatment using moist heat

A hot shower to the entire body does not help increase circulation to the hands.  You will not experience the degree of increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage as you will when the heat is focused to the hands.

To do this properly, prepare three towels:

The first is used to cover the surface that you will be sitting or laying on.

The second should be a large clean towel.  Soak it water as hot as you can stand to handle.  Wring the towel out as completely as you can, so that it is not dripping excess water.  Sit or lie down in a comfortable position so your hand is on top of the dry towel.  Apply the large hot moist towel on the palm of the hand for 5-15 minutes. .

The third is a towel to cover and insulate the hot moist towel to keep it as hot as you can stand, for as long as possible.

The first time you do this, check yourself after the first few minutes and check yourself again five minutes after the first check, to assure that you are not burning yourself.  If you should have an accident:

1.      Ice pack to the area for 20 minutes only, no more. After 20 minutes the response of the body to the ice changes, and the tissue begins to swell and favor retention of inflammatory by-products.   Do this twice the first day and then daily until you are no longer in pain.

2.      Neosporin topical ointment used if you form a blister.  Apply it to the area of injury according to package instructions.  Keep the area clean and covered with sterile gauze.

3.      Aloe Vera gel applied to the area will speed healing.

4.      Determine what you did wrong with the heat; don’t do it again, because you will be using moist heat again in a slightly different manner, as it is still a good thing to do.  Adjust and modify your technique so you will not burn yourself again.

At the conclusion of the moist heat application the palm should be nicely red – only.  You should not feel like you are sore to the touch after using the hot towel.  If possible, keep the hot moist towel in place while doing other therapy; apply moist heat while doing DMSO, vitamin E oil and copper peptide treatment.

As a very nice option, you can also simply use a hot water bottle wrapped with a moist towel to the palm when you go to bed, or simply use it if you will be sitting for a long time in front of the TV, your computer or even your car.  Every little bit helps.

Do not underestimate the value of moist heat applied to the palm nodule – it might seem old-fashioned, but it works wonders.

Email your questions about Dupuytren contracture to contact@dupuytrens-contracture.com