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.