Are there any adverse effects from long-term use of MSM for arthritis pain?

Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

That's not an easy question to answer because there's not a lot of research on the long-term effects of the dietary supplement called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is formed using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organic form of sulfur that's also used as a dietary supplement.

Animals observed for 90 days on a daily dose of MSM five to seven times greater than what's typically used in people had no serious problems. Stomach upset, diarrhea and headache have been reported in human trials of MSM lasting up to 12 weeks. However, people taking a placebo also reported similar symptoms.

Since little is known about the long-term safety of MSM, it's no surprise that the efficacy also is unclear. Some studies have shown slight improvements in arthritis symptoms, but these studies were small and short term, so no definitive conclusions can be made.

Although there is great interest in using MSM to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, more research is needed to determine its benefits and risks.

July 13, 2017 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. 10 IBD questions to ask at your next appointment
  2. After a flood, are food and medicines safe to use?
  3. Arthritis
  4. Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts
  5. Arthritis rehabilitation
  6. Arthroscopy
  7. Botox injections: Can they relieve arthritis pain?
  8. Brucellosis
  9. Can arthritis pain medications be harmful?
  10. Chronic pain: Medication decisions
  11. Crohn's Crisis
  12. Crohn's disease
  13. Crohn’s disease: Can prebiotics help?
  14. Crohn's disease symptom: Is fatigue common?
  15. Crohn's or Colitis
  16. CT scan
  17. CT scans: Are they safe?
  18. Does smoking have an effect on Crohn's disease?
  19. Ease stress to reduce your psoriasis flares
  20. Eating well when you have Crohn's disease
  21. Exercise and chronic disease
  22. Exercising with arthritis
  23. Gluten sensitivity and psoriasis: What's the connection?
  24. Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  25. IBD and colon cancer: How often do you need screening?
  26. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  27. Integrative approaches to treating pain
  28. Isometric exercise
  29. Joint pain
  30. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  31. Joint replacement
  32. Living better with psoriasis
  33. Living well with Crohn's disease
  34. Psoriasis-related health risks
  35. MRI
  36. nail psoriasis
  37. Paget's disease of bone
  38. Prednisone risks, benefits
  39. Prednisone withdrawal: Why taper down slowly?
  40. Pregnancy and breast-feeding with psoriasis
  41. Psoriasis
  42. Psoriasis and clinical trials
  43. Psoriasis and intimacy
  44. Psoriasis and your self-esteem
  45. Psoriasis diet: Can changing your diet treat psoriasis?
  46. Identifying psoriasis triggers
  47. Psoriasis: Get the most out of your treatment
  48. Psoriasis: How can I protect my skin during a workout?
  49. Fish oil supplements
  50. Psoriasis treatment options
  51. Psoriasis: What if I get psoriatic arthritis, too?
  52. Psoriasis: What to share with your doctor
  53. Resources to help you live well with Crohn's disease
  54. Scalp psoriasis vs. seborrheic dermatitis
  55. Seeing Inside the Heart with MRI
  56. Cane tips
  57. Slide show: 5 ways to thrive with psoriasis through the holidays
  58. Slide show: Caring for your skin when you have psoriasis
  59. Hand exercises for people with arthritis
  60. Joint protection
  61. Types of psoriasis
  62. Walker tips
  63. Staying active with Crohn's disease
  64. Tai chi
  65. Tips for easing stress when you have Crohn's disease
  66. Ultrasound
  67. Vasculitis
  68. MRI
  69. Tai chi
  70. Water exercise
  71. Alternative psoriasis treatments
  72. What are the risks of vaccinations for people living with psoriasis?
  73. What's the best way to manage scalp psoriasis?
  74. X-ray
  75. Yucca: Can it relieve arthritis pain?