Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Dancing With Dog Toys + DMSO

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Reader Steve Williamson “almost unsubscribed” from his PainSci Membership … but then decided it was too good to give up!

I’ve been on for a year and I only occasionally read your posts. Then, I decided to take another look around Pain Science. I am more impressed than ever. I’m keeping my subscription and I’ll try to make up for lost time reading! Thank you for your excellent work and good sense of humor.

That’s what I like to hear. Two things came from this nice interaction: a whimsical balance exercise, and an entire new article for the PainSci library about DMSO for pain.

Dancing With Dog Toys

Steve shared his “unique daily exercise for balance” for older folks aiming to preserve their ability to navigate the world — Dancing with Dog Toys. It's very simple: scatter dog toys on the ground and then step around and over them! It has the sprinkle of whimsy that is an important ingredient for many people. (More boring versions are common.)

It’s never going to be a Crossfit event, but it is a better challenge for an aging body than the young can easily imagine.

No approach to exercising works for everyone, of course. The first person I suggested this to immediately said, “I don’t have a good place to do that.” But then he worked it out, gave it a try, and he started doing it regularly.

Can dimethyl sulfoxide “solvent” your pain problems? New article about DMSO for pain

I always ask members who contact me if they have any topics they wish I’d write about. Steve’s pick was DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) — which I’ve been meaning to write about for years, and this request finally pushed it to the top of the to-do list. And so here’s a brief salamander-style intro to DMSO, excerpted from the intro to a whole new permanent DMSO article:

I grew up in Prince George, British Columbia, a small northern Canadian city, and a smelly one thanks to all the pulp mills. The Kraft process dissolves wood into pulp for paper-making, and — in addition to the stench — it pumps out the organosulfar compound dimethyl sulfoxide, a powerful industrial and laboratory solvent best known by its acronym: DMSO.

And DMSO is supposedly medicinal! Little did I know, growing up in odiferous PG, that my nose was filled with a nostrum that I would eventually write about as a health science journalist. Was it the smell of snake oil?

DMSO has reputation as a pain-killer, despite the fact that it has never been approved for use as such anywhere in the world. It is popular with more serious athletes and military personnel for injuries. There’s a bit of a macho vibe to its history. It has also been touted and debunked as a cancer cure — most of a century ago — so there’s also a quackery vibe.

The science is quite sketchy, and only one thing is certain: it is a biologically interesting chemical, mainly because it passes through cell membranes like they aren’t even there. What could possibly go wrong? Or right?

DMSO may work for pain. No one really knows. But it is probably also a little too interesting to be predictable, reliable, or safe …

DMSO is fascinating, and I some of what I found dropped my jaw. It makes you stink like garlic. It explodes. It can cause nerve cells to self-destruct. It can edit your genetics. And yet it’s often sold with and like an herbal supplement! Read the whole new DMSO article, about a 10-minute read.

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher