What are Lidocaine Infusions?
Lidocaine infusions are a form of treatment for moderate to severe chronic pain that does not respond to other forms of conservative treatment. It involves the intravenous administration of lidocaine, a commonly used local anesthesia medication.
Indications for Lidocaine Infusions
Lidocaine infusions may be used in the management of a wide range of painful conditions including:
- Neuralgia (nerve-related pain)
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Postherpetic pain
- Chronic diabetic neuropathy
- Vascular headaches
- Centralized pain (pain caused due to improper pain signal processing by the central nervous system)
- Widespread pain
Contraindications for Lidocaine Infusions
Lidocaine infusion therapy may not be recommended for patients with:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Liver problems
- Decreased lung function
- Chronic kidney disease
- glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency
How Lidocaine Works for Pain Management
Lidocaine is a calcium channel blocker that blocks pain receptors in the spinal cord and brain which is effective in treating pain caused due to nerve damage or malfunctioning of the central nervous system.
Preparing for Lidocaine Infusion
An initial consultation will be performed during which your doctor will go over your medical history to determine if you are a candidate for lidocaine infusion. Personalized instructions will be provided at that time. In general, you may be asked to:
- Avoid food from midnight the day before you receive treatment, but you may take clear liquids until about 3 hours before the procedure.
- Temporarily discontinue some of the medications you take.
- Bring a family member or friend who can stay with you during the therapy session and drive you home afterward.
Lidocaine Infusion Procedure
The lidocaine infusion procedure involves the following steps:
- The procedure is performed with you seated comfortably in the infusion chair.
- The access site on your arm will be cleaned with a sterile solution.
- Your doctor or trained medical staff will insert a needle connected to your lidocaine IV bag into a vein in your arm.
- As the lidocaine is slowly infused into your bloodstream, you may notice a reduction in pain immediately but may take longer in some instances.
- Your vital signs including breathing, heart rate, and oxygen saturation are constantly monitored throughout the procedure.
- The length of the infusion process maybe 2-3 hours.
Recovery after Lidocaine Infusion
After the lidocaine infusion ends, you will spend about an hour’s time in the recovery room to ensure there are no side effects from the treatment. You can then be driven home by your friend or family member. You should relax for the rest of the day and return to work or routine activities gradually as your symptoms improve.
Risks and Complications of Lidocaine Infusions
Lidocaine infusion therapy is safe for most patients when administered in a carefully monitored setting. However, there are possible risks that include:
- Numbness and tingling around the mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory difficulty
- Irregular heart rhythm