Lidocaine Infusions for Pain

Q. What Is a Lidocaine Infusion?

Lidocaine is a common anesthetic (pain killer). The medicine is delivered by intravenous (IV) infusion. It works by blocking pain receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This may help decrease chronic pain, especially for patients with neuropathic pain.

Q. Who Should Get a Lidocaine Infusion?

Patients with complex regional pain syndrome, neuropathic pain, or chronic pain that does not respond well to other treatments may benefit from lidocaine infusion. Headache sufferers may benefit as well.

Q. What Are the Side Effects?

Serious side effects or complications are very rare because patients are closely monitored during this procedure. Possible side effects are numbness, tingling of the mouth, giddiness, light headedness, nausea, and urinary frequency. As soon as the lidocaine treatment is stopped the side effects go away.

Q. How Do I Prepare?

To prepare for a therapeutic infusion, eat and drink normally up to four hours before your infusion. You may have clear liquids up to two hours prior to the infusion and nothing by mouth within two hours of your scheduled start time. You must also have a driver for the first trial; this treatment should NOT be done if you are pregnant.

Lidocaine infusions last about two hours but you will need to plan on being in the Center for 3-4 hours to allow preparation and adequate time for full recovery.

Q. What Happens During a Lidocaine Infusion?

A doctor will see you. The doctor will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. The doctor will also answer any other questions you may have.

An intravenous (IV) tube will be placed in a vein in your arm before the procedure. You will be started on the lidocaine. This IV will run for approximately 60 minutes. Your pain and side effects including blood pressure and oxygen level will be monitored every 5 to 15 minutes. You will be asked about pain and side effects very frequently. Once you achieve pain control, have any side effects, or complete the infusion, the infusion will be stopped.

Lidocaine infusions can be repeated several times with minimal side effects. You will be evaluated for potential repeat infusions.

Q. What Happens After the Infusion?

You will be in a room for observation for fifteen minutes following the procedure, where medical staff will check your blood pressure and pulse. You will be asked about your pain. Medical staff will review your discharge instructions with you and answer any questions you may have. Most people report at least 50 percent improvement in their pain immediately.

Keep track of your pain for the next three to four weeks to see how long the lidocaine infusion lasts. Someone must drive you home following the first time you have a lidocaine infusion.

If you have a good response your doctor may recommend oral medications as supplements such as Lamictal or mexiletine.

Q. Can I Resume Normal Activities After the Procedure?

You will have a few restrictions immediately following the procedure. Other than that, you may:

  • Resume normal activities so you can measure the relief of pain on your patient checklist
  • Eat and drink your normal diet
  • Follow your doctor’s and physical therapist’s recommendations for exercise

Q. What Do I Do for Follow-Up Visits?

Follow up appointment to return to the clinic or for repeat infusions will be scheduled before discharge.