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Neurosci Lett. 1993 Feb 19;150(2):145-8.

Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) blocks conduction in peripheral nerve C fibers: a possible mechanism of analgesia.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield.


Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is readily absorbed through skin, and relieves musculoskeletal pain when applied topically to painful areas. We studied the effects of DMSO on C-type nerve fibers, which mediate pain sensation. DMSO was applied directly to exposed cat sural nerves. C fiber conduction velocity was slowed by DMSO, even in low concentrations (5-7% v/v). Higher concentrations completely blocked C fiber conduction, with a minimum blocking concentration of 9%. Onset of nerve block was almost immediate with 15% DMSO or higher concentrations. C fiber blockade may account for analgesia with DMSO.

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