Early research suggests that oral or topical use of dimethyl sulfoxide may treat amyloidosis, a condition with complications that include arthritis, according to WebMD. However, this research is inclusive as of 2015. There is more research to support using a topical cream to treat conditions, such as complex regional pain syndrome and damage from chemotherapy, which can cause joint pain.
The more common use for dimethyl sulfoxide is as a Food and Drug Administration-approved oral treatment to alleviate symptoms of interstitial cystitis, a condition affecting the bladder, states WebMD. The prescription drug is typically safe for most patients but may have side effects in others, such as dry skin, nausea, difficulty seeing or breathing, headaches and allergic reactions. Use of the drug can alter insulin levels in the body, so patients with diabetes on dimethyl sulfoxide should closely track blood sugar levels and adjust insulin intake accordingly. Patients with conditions affecting the liver or kidney should test the organs semiannually to check for impaired function related to use of the drug. Due to insufficient research of its effects on pregnant and breast-feeding women, these patients should also avoid the drug.
Dimethyl sulfoxide may interact with other oral, injectable and topical drugs by increasing the body's absorption of the drugs, explains WebMD. This can amplify both the intended and side effects of the interacting medications.