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

Neurosci Lett. 1993 Feb 19;150(2):145-8. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(93)90522-m.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Analgesia*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology*
  • Electrodes
  • Nerve Block
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects*
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects*
  • Sural Nerve / drug effects


  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide